BLACKFOOT — David Davis’ family and friends let out a sigh of relief Tuesday when District Judge Darren Simpson sentenced Davis’ murderer.
Melonie Smith, 49, was sentenced to life in prison for the first-degree murder of Davis, and four to five years in prison for attempting to conceal and destroy the evidence. Smith was arrested in February after she shot Davis in the back of the head in her home after inviting him over to use meth.
A man she had called to help her clean up the scene reported the murder to police, leading to the discovery of Davis’ body in her house.
“This case was an eye opener even for me,” Simpson said, citing years of experience as both a defense attorney and a prosecutor. “Those who want to believe drugs are a victimless crime need to sit through this trial.”
Smith maintained during her sentencing that she was innocent. “The truth will come out,” Smith said.
During the October trial, Smith said Kevin Day had killed Davis, and she was only a witness. Day pleaded guilty Dec. 18 to shooting Davis in the legs in front of Smith’s home, saying the victim had made threats against him and his dog, and he was afraid it was an ambush. Day denied shooting Davis in the back of the head, however, and testified that Smith called him after he fled to say Davis was dead.
Smith also told Simpson she was unsatisfied with the representation she received from Defense Attorney James Archibald, saying she would have been acquitted if he had done a better job at the trial.
Archibald said his client intended to appeal, citing evidence that wasn’t presented to the jury and graphic photos that may have been prejudicial.
Kelli Mooney, Davis’ cousin, testified during the sentencing that Davis had been raised by his grandparents and was excited to be raising a family of his own. The last time Mooney saw Davis was at a Walmart six months before the murder.
“I think we’re all still in disbelief,” Mooney said.
Archibald asked Mooney if she was aware of Davis’ drug use. Mooney said she had heard of it, but hadn’t seen him using drugs.
Heather Davis, Davis’ widow, gave a victim impact statement, saying her children lived in fear that Melonie would hurt them as well.
“They started asking questions about whether David suffered,” Heather Davis said. “All I can say is he’s in a better place.”
Bingham County Prosecutor Cleve Colson said the presentence investigation found Smith was at a high risk to reoffend, and could not ever be released from prison without putting the public at risk.
“She had the ability to contact first responders, she had vehicles at her disposal to take him to the hospital, but she made a choice,” Colson said.
Colson cited Smith’s callousness, pointing out that she and her mother continued to live in the house for two days with Davis’ body in the kitchen before the murder was discovered.
“Is that a person that this court can make that determination, that she may be safe to be in the community?” Colson asked the judge.
Before passing sentence, Simpson went over Smith’s criminal history, including a history of drug use and domestic abuse against her ex-husband. Simpson noted Smith had been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder.
Simpson read notes from the presentence investigator that stated Smith had talked about hurting people who wronged her, and saying she was a threat not only to the public, but would be a risk to her fellow inmates. Simpson said it was the first time he had seen a presentence investigator concerned a defendant was a threat to other prisoners.
“Having sat through the trial, there is no doubt in my mind that you are guilty of the crimes you’re accused of,” Simpson said.
Simpson said Smith would benefit from treatment for her drug addiction and PTSD, but that no treatment, in or out of prison, would make it safe to release her.
“I am certain that any type of rehabilitation would be fruitless,” Simpson said.
Reporter Johnathan Hogan can be reached at 208-542-6746.