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Virginia City, Montana

Ennis shooter gets life without chance of parole
By Perry Backus of The Montana Standard

August 29, 2004

George Harold Davis will spend the rest of his life in prison, but that doesn't necessarily give his victims much solace.

Davis, 46, opened fire on a group of unsuspecting young people in downtown Ennis during the early morning hours of June 14, 2003. By the time he was done, one man was dead and six others were seriously wounded.

Davis fled the scene and was later arrested near the Montana-Idaho border when officers crashed their patrol car into his after a chase up Lolo Pass on U.S. 12. A Ravalli County deputy was wounded in a shootout when he tried to stop Davis near Florence.

In March, Davis pleaded guilty to murder and six counts of attempted murder for the Ennis crimes.

On Friday, Davis was sentenced to life in prison without a chance for parole. But first he had to hear from the people whose lives he'd changed forever.

There is Douglas Clark of Ennis.

Clark was downtown that early morning. He walked out a door just in time to hear a gunshot and see his son, Jamie Roberts, 27, fall to the ground mortally wounded. The next moment, he found himself dragging a friend back into a bar after the man was shot in the stomach.

Clark gave his son CPR and helped load him into a pickup truck to transport him to hospital, where he died.

On Friday, Clark stared into the eyes of the man who held the pistol and told him about lives torn apart by grief.

"I hate you for what you did to me, my family, friends and the entire Ennis community," Clark told Davis at the hearing. "I, Douglas P. Clark, will never forgive you."

Emotions were on edge throughout the courtroom. People wore blue and red T-shirts embossed with a logo urging people to remember that fateful night. People wiped away tears as they listened to the statements from those who were shot, their families and friends.

They all told of lives turned upside down.

"I will never be the same person that I was since you, George Davis, shattered and tore one of the biggest holes in my heart, for which there is no repair," Jamie Roberts' mother, Sharon Clark said. "I feel that you also killed me that horrible night of June 14, 2003. You, George Davis, killed my one and only son."

"Jamie was one of the kindest, outgoing, happy-go-lucky people anyone would want to be around," said Sharon Clark. "Jamie liked to make the whole world laugh and be happy. Jamie had no enemies."

Roberts' sister posed the unanswered question: Why?

"You have no remorse for what you did or what you have caused and I cannot understand that," said Katy Clark. "The only reason I can come up with is because you are the devil. The devil is the only person who acts the way you do today."

In arguing for life in prison without parole, Madison County Attorney Bob Zenker said he'd been asked many times, "Why did he do it?" After considering all the evidence, Zenker said the only explanation he could find is that "George Harold Davis is evil incarnate. He is the face of evil."

Zenker said Davis' background is filled with violent tendencies. A background check revealed Davis was a racist and white supremacist. He believed Hitler should have been more successful. He harassed a sheriff simply because his name was Goldman. He advocated for paramilitary groups, and served as a mercenary in Nicaragua. He was shopping for a sniper rifle.

"The defendant is brutal, dangerous and evil," Zenker told the court. "He is a cancer and the court is the surgeon. This community asks the court to remove this cancer from among us forever."

When Davis stood to address the courtroom, he turned to the audience and said in a quiet voice, "I'm sorry. I didn't know what I was doing. I don't even remember."

Davis blamed the episode on his decision to ease off the antidepressant drug Paxil. Davis said he'd learned more about the drug from the Internet since the shooting and, "I know it was the Paxil now."

Davis also said a "big guy" hit him as he was leaving the bar.

"For some reason, everything went black after that," he said.

Both attorneys for the state, Zenker and John Connor of the Montana Attorney General's office, said blaming the drug was only a ploy by Davis to shift the blame.

Defense attorney Ed Sheehy, Jr., said Davis didn't offer Paxil as an excuse but urged the court to view his decision to cut back on the medication as a mitigating measure when considering sentencing.

Sheehy recommended an 80-year sentence with 40 years suspended, saying by the time that Davis is released, he'd be well into his 80s and no longer a threat to society. With an 80-year sentence, Davis would be supervised for the rest of this life, he said.

Sheehy said Davis is remorseful, pointing to the fact that he cried during some of the victims' statements.

"There is no indication that he was faking that crying," said Sheehy. "That is remorse."

Judge Tucker was unmoved. He said that other than Davis' "belated expression" of remorse, he had shown no sympathy for the victims before the hearing.

Tucker also didn't buy by the Paxil excuse, saying Davis knew he wasn't supposed to mix alcohol with the drug. Davis drank more than 10 beers the night of the shooting

Tucker said he felt the "heartfelt anguish" expressed by the victims of the crime and that the only fortunate point is that only one person was killed that night. Had Davis been a better marksman, more people would have certainly died, Tucker said.

"It was not for a lack of effort," he said.

Tucker warned people not to expect too much from the court's decision.

"We do not live in a perfect world," he said. "There will be no perfect result. That's the only thing that I can promise."

"The court must operate under the rule of law," said the judge.

"What that is evil and what that is good, that final judgment must be left to God." 

Copyright Perry Backus and the Montana Standard, reproduced by permission.


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