District man sentenced to 45 years in 1999 murder of estranged wife
A District man convicted in November of fatally stabbing his estranged wife 13 years ago was sentenced Friday to 45 years to life in prison.
A jury had convicted Lawrence Davis, 47, of first-degree murder in the death of his wife in her home on the morning of March 1, 1999. Elizabeth Patrice Singleton, 32, had taken out repeated restraining orders against Davis before her death, accusing him of beating and sexually assaulting her repeatedly.
Davis maintained his innocence during the sentencing hearing.
“I’m sorry for your loss,” said Davis, motioning to members of Singleton’s family in the back of the courtroom. “But I did not commit this crime. I am at the mercy of the court.”
But D.C. Superior Court Judge William M. Jackson said there was “overwhelming evidence” of Davis’s guilt.
“The tragedy of this case is she reached out for help,” Jackson said. “People tried to help her because of the violence you consistently bestowed upon her. You’re not innocent. You took her life.”
After one incident, Singleton and her three sons fled the home they shared with Davis and moved to Southeast Washington. On the day of her death, Davis came to her home to take their youngest son to a speech therapy class because Singleton was sick and needed a favor.
With the boy in the car, prosecutors said, Davis went into the house and stabbed Singleton 11 times before returning to the car and driving his son to class.
The 6-year-old boy gave an account to detectives, but Davis was not charged for years. He was arrested in 2009 after DNA evidence was found that linked Davis to Singleton’s slaying. Investigators also found a witness who testified that Davis had been at Singleton’s house that March morning; the witness, a neighbor, had not been interviewed previously.
Singleton and Davis’s youngest son, Christopher — now 19 — heard screams before his father returned to the car outside. He was not at the sentencing. Neither were his brothers, Calvin, 21, and Kevin, 25.
Singleton’s sister, Ivy Moorefield, told Jackson that she was pleased that her family was finally receiving some justice. “We waited for 12 years for this day,” Moorefield said. “He not only killed my sister, he robbed my mother of her oldest daughter and robbed my nephews of their mother.”
Jackson could have sentenced Davis to life in prison. He ultimately sentenced him to a prison term 15 years longer than the minimum mandatory under the District’s sentencing guidelines.
After the hearing, Moorefield said she was satisfied with the sentence. “It was basically a life sentence,” she said. “You don’t have to say life for it to be life.”
Davis’s attorney, Archie Nichols, said his client plans to appeal.