The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

March 7, 2013

Sexual abduction trial under way

By Jeff Lehr

PINEVILLE, Mo. — Two women testified Thursday how Johnny Ray Davis Jr. abducted, threatened and sexually assaulted them over a 12-hour period.

The women, 30 and 40 years of age, were the lone witnesses to testify the first day of a trial, which was moved to Pineville on a change of venue from Newton County. The trial will resume at 9 a.m. today and could conclude by the end of the day.

Davis, 33, of rural Nowata, Okla., is facing two counts of first-degree assault, two counts of kidnapping and two counts of armed criminal action.

The women were trying to score methamphetamine in the early morning hours of Dec. 26, 2011, when they met Davis at the end of Cedar Drive south of the Petro truck stop in Joplin.

The older woman testified that neither of them knew who Davis was. She’d called a female friend to get her some meth. She’d received a text message back that a man would meet them at that location and take them to her friend.

She got out of the truck to talk to the man, and the next she knew she was seeing stars, she said. He had punched her in the side of the head. It left her groggy until she came to her senses moments later in the cab of his truck.

The younger woman was able to recall more details of the abduction despite having been punched in the face herself, according to her testimony. She said that when they arrived at the end of the road where Davis was waiting, he was acting as if he dropped the meth he was suppose to deliver inside his truck. She said it gave her a bad feeling about the whole deal.

“The hair on the back of my neck was standing up,” she said. “I knew something was wrong because he was acting all weird.”

She thought of leaving in her truck when he punched her, breaking her nose and knocking her to the ground. He then zip-tied her hands behind her back, lifted her up by her hair and her hands and put her in the truck with the other woman. She managed to get her hands free, got back out of the truck and tried to call on her cellphone for help. But he saw what she was doing and stopped her, and threw her to the ground and zip-tied her hands tighter behind her, she said.

He then drove them into Oklahoma on Interstate 44 and began driving around on off roads for about an hour and a half or two hours, the women testified.

“He told us we needed to cooperate with him; if we told on him, he would hurt us,” the younger woman said.

He threatened to kill them and their families if they went to the police, she said. He told them he belonged to the Aryan Brotherhood, and he would have someone track them down and kill them if he was not able to do it himself, she said.

“Did that scare you?” Prosecutor Jake Skouby asked.

“Yeah, it did,” she said. “You just don’t know what people are going to do.”

The women testified that Davis then forced them both to perform oral sex on him and to perform sex acts with each other inside the truck. Later, he stopped on a gravel road and raped the younger woman on the seat of the truck, they said. He then raped her again at an abandoned farmhouse, they said.

Davis was high on meth and extremely paranoid throughout most of the abduction, they said. The women told the court that he thought the trees were police and that cows in the fields were police vehicles.

The women said they did not know where they were in Oklahoma and were afraid to run or try to get away because they feared what he might do if he caught them. After the abandoned farmhouse, he took them to another house that the older one believed to be his home because he fed the dogs there. He siphoned some gas for his truck at the place and smoked some meth with them before driving them to a gas station to fill up the truck.

The women said over the course of the abduction, they tried to get him to begin empathizing with them so that he would not kill them. They gradually convinced him that the younger one needed medical care for her broken nose and what she thought might be a broken collarbone.

“I told him that I had two little kids and I didn’t want to die,” the younger woman said.

Eventually, he took them back to Missouri and dropped them off at Freeman Hospital West in Joplin. He was arrested while waiting for them outside the hospital.

Public defender Agnes Prevendarcsik-Hoell called the women’s testimonies into question on several points during her cross-examinations. Both women acknowledged that they are recovering meth addicts, that they had used the drug the previous night when they went to a casino with another man and again with Davis without having to pay for it.

The older woman further acknowledged that Davis had left his cellphone in the truck with her at one point and she had not used it to call for help. She said she was afraid that if the 911 operator called back, he would hear it, know what she had done and might harm them.

The younger woman admitted that she began to feel sorry for her attacker as the ordeal wore on. She said an underlying sense of guilt that caused her to feel that way toward him remains a focal point of counseling she continues to receive. She explained that she primarily felt sorry for him because he was messed up on drugs and she had been there herself and knew what that was like.

She acknowledged that Davis gave her a cellphone when they got to the hospital and told her to call her mother and tell her she was all right. But she didn’t.

“I faked calling her,” she said. “I didn’t want to call her because I didn’t want to worry her.”

But she did use the phone to exchange text messages with the defendant as he waited outside the hospital before his arrest, she said. She also admitted that she made up a story to hospital staff about what had happened to them and that she may have sent him a text message advising him not to wait for her, because she was afraid the other woman might call police on him.

The defense entered text messages into evidence that show Davis inquiring if the two women were doing OK and the younger one replying: “Thank u for helping me and bringing me to the hospital. Please keep in touch.”

Offers of proof

Defense attorneys attempted to ask the two alleged victims of Johnny Davis Jr. about the number of times one of them has been a victim of assaults and about occasions when the other had done drugs with men without paying for them. Objections raised by the prosecutor were sustained by Circuit Judge John LePage, prompting the defense to have the questions asked of the witnesses on the record out of the hearing of the jurors.