Guilty Plea in '96 Nightclub Slaying
Thursday, May 3, 2007
After 11 years, a grieving mother finally heard yesterday what she needed to hear.
"Guilty, your honor."
She went to D.C. Superior Court to hear a man admit that he was the gunman who killed her son in May 1996 in a burst of gunfire at a crowded downtown nightclub.
Sarah Davis wept for her son, Louis Davis, 24, as if he had just been taken from her.
"He was my baby," she said, tears streaking down her cheeks. "He wasn't perfect, but he had morals and he had principles. He loved life, and I loved my baby boy."
And then she said something more, to George P. Foreman III, the man who pulled the trigger.
"I forgive you. . . . I really do," she said. "I can go on with my life now."
Since his arrest in September 1996, Foreman, 35, has contested the charges against him and been tried four times.
The first trial, in 1997, ended in a hung jury. The second, also in 1997, ended in a conviction and a lengthy prison sentence. But in 2002, the D.C. Court of Appeals ordered a new trial after finding that the trial judge made numerous errors. The third trial, in 2005, ended in a hung jury, as did the fourth, last year.
The fifth trial was to have begun this week.
But, apparently, everyone decided it was time to bring the case to an end.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Glenn Kirschner, who was a new homicide prosecutor when he first tried the case in 1997 and now heads the homicide section, worked out a deal with Ferris Bond, who defended Foreman in the last trial and was to defend him in the fifth trial.
Facing the possibility of life in prison if convicted of first-degree murder, Foreman agreed to plead guilty to second-degree murder in exchange for a sentence that will run no more than 13 years, most of which he has served while awaiting a resolution.
It was an orderly conclusion to a case that began amid the sounds of gunfire and the screams of patrons in the early hours of May 6, 1996, at the Babylon Club. The club, at 911 F St. NW, was packed when Foreman, of Forestville, and his party arrived.
It wasn't long before Foreman spotted Davis. Why he would have been after Davis was never clear, though the prosecutor said an earlier fight with a friend of Foreman's may have prompted the shooting.
The gunfire emptied the popular club. Davis, of the unit block of Temple Court NW, was shot in the chest and back. At least 15 other people were injured by gunfire or in a rush for the doors.
Nightclub killings are notoriously difficult to investigate, and the inquiry yielded little early on. The clubs are often dimly lighted, and patrons are often under the influence of alcohol. In this case, by the time investigators arrived, few potential witnesses were around.
But the chance recovery of the gun used in the shooting, after the weapon was discarded by a suspect in another killing, led homicide detectives to Foreman.