Man convicted of first-degree murder in stabbing death of wife last summer He could receive life without parole

April 11, 1996|By Elaine Tassy | Elaine Tassy,SUN STAFF

Hillendale pizza driver Anthony Lee Davenport was convicted of first-degree murder by a Baltimore County Circuit Court jury yesterday in the stabbing of his wife, Katanya Denise Davenport, 83 times last summer.

Davenport, 27, who is serving a 30-year term for attacking his wife six months earlier, while she was pregnant, could be given life without the possibility of parole. Sentencing by Judge Barbara Kerr Howe has been set tentatively for May 8.

Taking the stand yesterday, Davenport said he had been drinking and using drugs the night before the July 29 stabbing and was propelled by anger after his wife told him their marriage was over.

"I started stabbing her. Things went dark," he testified, adding repeatedly, "Everything happened so fast."

He said the killing was not planned. "I finally came to my senses, and I saw her laying there. I told her, 'Get up, get up.' "

Assistant State's Attorney Robin S. Coffin challenged Davenport's account during her cross-examination and closing arguments, saying the defensive knife wounds on his 30-year-old wife's arms and legs showed that she had tried to get away.

The victim's struggling, the prosecutor said, gave "time for him to consider, 'Do I continue to commit this assault on my wife?' "

She asked about Davenport calling 911, asking for help for himself but not his wife, and leaving the knife in her neck.

He had no reply.

While Mrs. Davenport was being stabbed in the bedroom, her two nieces and two daughters -- one age 10, the other 19 days old -- were in the living room.

Public defenders, trying to show that the killing was not premeditated, first-degree murder, argued that if Davenport had planned the murder, he would have committed it when the children were not present and would have planned a getaway instead of calling 911 and waiting for the police.

Prosecutors presented testimony from the 10-year-old daughter, who saw the stabbing, and played tapes of her hysterical call to a 911 emergency dispatcher, along with Davenport's own 911 call, in which he confessed.

The jury took almost three hours to return the verdict, which was met with tears and hugs by a dozen of Mrs. Davenport's relatives who sat through the two-day trial.

Bennie Cooper, the victim's father, said after the verdict, "I'm well pleased. No doubt they saw through that little line he tried to present there."

The children are now in the care of Mr. Cooper and other family members.

According to court records, Davenport also attacked the victim Jan. 9, 1995, while she was two months' pregnant with his daughter. During an argument, she ran from a car into the house of a stranger in the 6500 block of Loch Hill Court, saying, "Help me, my boyfriend is trying to kill me."

Davenport chased her, broke the door open and hit her, according to a police report. He then wrapped her sweater around her throat, dragged her to a porch and threw her over a railing 5 feet to the ground, then jumped on her, hit her again and smashed her head against the ground.

Davenport was jailed for about two months, until March 1995, when the victim arranged for his $20,000 bond. They married that month.

He pleaded guilty in June to burglary and battery. A presentencing report noted that his bride felt "confident that another such incident will not occur."

A month later, the day before her 31st birthday, she was slain.

Pub Date: 4/11/96

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