Judge sentences city man to 35 years in stabbing case

Victim was living with assailant's ex-girlfriend

December 25, 2003|By Stephanie Hanes | Stephanie Hanes,SUN STAFF

It was only a matter of months after Adolph Cloud moved from New Orleans to Essex that James Davis came violently into his life, prosecutors said.

And they said what happened that February evening, amid a record snowstorm, was enough to make Cloud, 21, abandon his hopes of finishing barber school here and flee the state with memories of torture, pain and fear.

It was also enough for Baltimore County Circuit Judge J. William Hinkel to sentence Davis, of Baltimore, to 35 years in prison.

The sentencing hearing yesterday was the final chapter in the bizarre and gruesome case of Cloud and Davis, a case of jealousy, violence and brutality.

County prosecutors and law enforcement officers also hoped it would be the final chapter for Davis -- a 24-year-old with a pages-long juvenile record and multiple adult convictions in Baltimore; a man who, when on trial in the fall in the county, held up a handmade sign to the jury insulting the prosecutor.

According to court records, Davis never served any significant time for his adult city offenses.

"His mistake was coming out to the county," said Baltimore County Detective Michael Ruby.

Prosecutors said Cloud and Davis -- also known as "Woo Woo" -- were connected through Kiesha Smoot. Smoot had lived with Davis until about the middle of 2001, and later moved in with Cloud and his cousin in Essex.

In the meantime, Davis had moved in with another woman.

But on Feb. 15, police said Davis ran into Smoot and talked to her about her new relationship. Four days later, three masked men forced their way into Cloud's apartment. They forced him to the floor, put a gun to his head, and stabbed his genitals repeatedly.

Police said they got their break in the case when Smoot finally admitted she had recognized Davis during the attack. She told them to look for Davis' Donald Duck sweater. A police task force found the sweater in Davis' apartment in the 1900 block of Hillenwood Road. It was stained by blood that DNA tests found was Cloud's.

In October, Davis was convicted by a Baltimore County jury of several counts related to the crime, including robbery and handgun charges. During the trial, Hinkel admonished Davis repeatedly for his behavior, which included holding up a sign that said, "She's a good actor" after Assistant State's Attorney Robin Coffin finished her opening statements.

Yesterday, Davis said that the jury convicted him only because of his trial antics and that he deserved to be treated leniently. He said Smoot's words to detectives were motivated by revenge.

"I'm not coming to the courtroom to say I'm innoce ... I'm no saint or nothing like that," he said. "I'm a young man who is developing into a man, who is building a family, taking care of my family. And yes -- yes, it is true, I took care of Ms. Smoot and her two sons. I was the sole provider for them. It was devastating when I up and left her" and the children.

Coffin said that Cloud left town as soon as he got out of the hospital and that neither he nor any other witnesses would testify because she was worried about retribution against them.

"In looking at this offense, the cruelty and brutality of it is almost staggering," she said. "If you look at the defendant's conduct both inside and outside of this courtroom, your honor, I think it reflects what an extreme danger he is. The next time, I don't think there will be witnesses."

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