Guilty plea didn't play out as expected in murder trial

After Alisa Davis’ fiancé was found shot to death in his minivan parked outside her Tioga house, investigators quickly turned their attention to the 37-year-old single mother of five.

The romance between Davis and 49-year-old William Blount had fizzled and witnesses said it wasn’t pretty. Blount demanded that Davis return the rings he gave her and the license plate to her Chevy Impala, which he gave her because she couldn’t afford insurance.

And then there was word that Davis had reestablished a relationship with ex-Philadelphia Police Officer David Wade Howard, with whom she had two children during their time together. Howard had just been paroled after about six years in prison for wounding a man he caught in bed with his ex-wife.

So when the Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office charged Davis and Howard with murder in Blount's Easter Sunday 2014 slaying, Davis decided to get ahead of the case.

On Dec. 4, 2015, Davis pleaded guilty to third-degree murder and conspiracy and agreed to testify for the prosecution at Howard’s trial. And she did, telling a Common Pleas Court jury in March how she asked Howard to “take care of” Blount so she could get out of the relationship.

What happened next was a twist worthy of Alfred Hitchcock: the jury acquitted the 53-year-old Howard and he walked out of court a free man.

On Wednesday, Davis was sentenced to 6-½ to 15 years in prison by Common Pleas Court Judge Kathryn Streeter Lewis, who told her, “A life was taken, a life no one had the right to take … This plan was put in place by you.”

Davis, now 40, tears rolling down her cheeks and stifling sobs, apologized to Blount’s family – they were not present at the sentencing – and pleaded with Lewis to be allowed to remain with her family and study for a degree in nursing.

“I’m a good person, I don’t hang around with negative people,” Davis said.

Defense lawyer Max Kramer presented 14 supporters in the gallery including Davis’ four daughters and her mother and stepfather to demonstrate the strong family support Davis has.

Kramer argued for a sentence of not more than 23 months, citing her cooperation in Howard’s trial and that she felt coerced by Howard into planning the murder.

Kramer said Howard was physically abusive to her during their time together: “She feared her own death at his hands.”

Assistant District Attorney Gail Fairman acknowledged Davis’ cooperation but urged Lewis to sentence her to 6 to 20 years in prison.

Fairman said Davis “put the wheels in motion” in the murder plot and still wound up keeping the rings and car that Blount gave her.

“How much intelligence does it take to know that you don’t kill someone else? That’s no answer,” Fairman said.