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Juvenile lifer gets reduced prison term in ’93 slaying

Oralandar Brand-Williams
The Detroit News

During an emotional hearing Thursday, a Detroit man sentenced to life without parole for a robbery and murder committed when he was 16 learned he will have to spend two more years in prison.

Cortez Roland Davis, 40, who has served 23 years in prison, was resentenced to 25-60 years by Judge Shannon Walker of Wayne County Circuit Court in the 1993 slaying of Raymond Derrick Davis Jr. on Detroit’s west side.

Raymond Davis was shot to death as Cortez Davis and two others robbed him of his coat Dec. 14, 1993, on Fenkell near Lesure. Cortez Davis has contended that another of the defendants shot the victim.

Cortez Davis’ lawyer, Clinton Hubbell, had sought a lighter sentence under a U.S. Supreme Court ruling overturning life-without-parole sentences for offenders who were sentenced as juveniles.

Davis was 17 when he was sentenced to 10-40 years for first degree-murder by Judge Vera Massey Jones of Wayne County Circuit Court in September 1994, then resentenced to life without parole in December 1994.

“There’s positively no basis for additional years (behind) bars,” said Hubbell, who added that the defendant’s risk as a repeat offender is “very low.”

“We request Cortez be immediately parolable,” the defense attorney said in court.

Assistant Wayne County Prosecutor Tom Dawson had asked the judge to resentence Davis to a minimum of 28 years.

“He may not have put the bullet in (the victim),” Dawson said during the hearing. “But his actions caused the death of Raymond Davis as much as the co-defendant.”

Hubbell called Dawson’s request “punitive.”

Cortez Davis, who did not noticeably react to the new sentence, apologized earlier for his role in Raymond Davis’ death.

“I am truly sorry for the pain I have caused and the rift (created) in their family,” he said. “For the last 23 years, I thought about my actions every day. I understand that I participated in something that took his life without knowing who he was.”

Cortez Davis said he has worked to rehabilitate himself in prison, completing paralegal studies, learning American sign language and remaining violation-free for the past decade.

“His death was not in vain because I am who I am today because of him,” Cortez Davis said. “I want society to know I am no longer the broken boy I was.”

Dawson said while Davis has shown he can be rehabilitated, the defendant has not shown remorse for his role in the murder, only admitting “yes I did it BUT ...

“That’s what I have a problem with,” the prosecutor said.

Earlier in the hearing, a relative of the victim addressed the court and said the victim’s murder left his parents inconsolable.

“My aunt and uncle grieved themselves to death,” said Geraldine Wells. “If (Cortez Davis) hasn’t shown any remorse, I suggest he pays for what he’s done.”

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