Opening Arguments In Davidson Trial

BY KRISTA PRIMROSE, Times-Union Staff Writer

Opening arguments were conducted this morning in the trial of Jason Davidson.

Davidson, 33, of Warsaw, is charged with the May 2, 2002, shooting death of Samuel Creekmore, 30.

Davidson is being tried in Kosciusko Circuit Court with Judge Rex Reed presiding.

Special prosecutor Matthew Rentschler, of Whitley County, laid out the case for the prosecution. He said Davidson’s life crumbled around him in 1999 when Davidson’s wife, Alicia, had an affair with Creekmore and eventually married him.

Davidson and Alicia were divorced in November 2000. Alicia and Creekmore were married a short time later.

Rentschler said Davidson knew Creekmore would be home on May 2 and that he called Alicia knowing it would be upsetting to Creekmore.

Rentschler said Davidson, while still on the cell phone, got out of his car, approached the house and asked Alicia where Creekmore was inside the house.

After she told him Creekmore was downstairs, he ended the call, walked inside the home and shots were heard, Rentschler said.

Alicia came downstairs and saw Davidson holding a gun and standing over Creekmore’s body.

Davidson told her, “I told you I couldn’t live like this,” Rentschler said.

Christina Barton, a friend of Alicia’s who was living at the Creekmore home at the time of the shootings, came downstairs at that time. Rentschler said Davidson told her not to call 911 and said, “I’m not going to jail” before fleeing the home.

“Out of ... resentment and hatred, he violently took another man’s life and we call that murder,” Rentschler told the jury.

Rentschler then held up a photo of a smiling Creekmore in a dress military uniform.

Defense attorney Dennis Hartley, of Colorado Springs, Colo., conducted opening arguments for the defense.

Creekmore also is represented by Michael Miner, of Warsaw.

Creekmore quietly wept during the defense portion of opening arguments.

Hartley said that whether Davidson shot Creekmore “is not an issue and has never been an issue.” What’s more important, Hartley said, is knowing why he did it and what led up to it.

The events that led up to the murder date back even before Davidson’s birth because of biological issues, Hartley said. He noted that Davidson’s family has a history of bipolar disorder, with a grandmother on his father’s side and an aunt on his mother’s side both diagnosed with the disease.

Hartley said bipolar disorder is a genetic disease and is inherited.

Other factors that might predispose Davidson to violent behavior included a head injury that was discovered by a forensic psychologist.

The psychologist noted differences between the frontal and temporal lobes of Davidson’s brain during an examination. Results of a PET scan, which seemed to show the differences, were shown to the jury.

Hartley also noted that at the time of the shooting, Davidson was taking two medications – Ambien and Zoloft.

Ambien is a sleep medication and is known as a hypnotic sedative, Hartley said, and Zoloft is an anti-depressant drug known as a specific serotonin reuptake inhibitor.

Both of these drugs affect the frontal and temporal lobes of the brain, which Davidson already had injured, Hartley argued, adding that the drugs include side effects such as hallucinations, agitation, suicidal thoughts and aggressiveness.

The drugs also can cause dissociative reactions in some patients, Hartley told the jury.

“In certain circumstances, these drugs (SSRs) can cause homicide or suicide,” Hartley said. “Couple that with Ambien, and you get a hypnotic state like disassociative reaction.”

Hartley said in the days prior to the shooting, Davidson planned to move to Florida and had no intention of killing Creekmore.

On the night of the shooting, he took his grandparents out to dinner at a local restaurant and returned home around 8 p.m. At that time, he took an Ambien, intending to go to sleep, and was awakened by a phone call from Alicia.

He then had a visitor who left around 10 p.m., Hartley said. At that time Davidson took a second Ambien and shortly after that, Alicia called Davidson again. Neither of them remembers the phone call, despite telephone company records to the contrary.

Davidson then traveled to Alicia’s home and called her on his cell phone on the way to tell her to make a choice between him and Creekmore, Hartley said.

Alicia said Davidson sounded robotic and not like himself. After that, Davidson’s memory is foggy, Hartley said, which is consistent with a dissociative state.

Davidson remembers going the door and hearing gunshots, Hartley said.

Jury selection trial continued until 5 p.m. Tuesday, as juror after juror was dismissed for a variety of reasons.

In the end, five women and seven men were seated to decide Davidson’s fate.

Throughout jury selection, Davidson sat stoically upright in his charcoal suit.

He appeared composed but without cool collectivity. His eyes appeared calm yet sad, and he occasionally glanced around.

Jury interview questions posed by Davidson’s attorneys seemed to foreshadow his defense. Potential jurors were questioned about their knowledge of head injuries, the side effects of anti-depressants and sleeping medications and their knowledge of the fields of psychology and neurology.

Jurors also were examined regarding their knowledge of anyone involved in the trial. At least seven jurors were dismissed because they knew Davidson or another key figure in the trial. One prospective juror was a 19-year friend of Davidson and openly admitted a strong bias before his dismissal.

The first 11 jurors were seated by 3 p.m., but the 12th seat proved hard to fill. Six potential jurors were interviewed for that seat with the first five dismissed.

The fourth woman to be interviewed for the final seat attended high school with Davidson but had no contact with him since that time.

As soon as her interview began, Davidson and his attorneys began whispering and passing notes. It was only during that woman’s interview that Davidson lost even an ounce of composure.

Also during that interview, Davidson momentarily lost the sad, calm look he had since morning. The woman made a crack about newspapers and crime coverage that caused nearly everyone in the courtroom to laugh aloud.

For a second, Davidson and his defense team all wore smiles.

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