A jury has been selected in the murder trial of Nina M. Davis, a Dayton woman accused of shooting and killing Travis Smith in June 2016. Opening statements were expected to begin at 1:45 p.m.
Davis, 35, was indicted for two counts of murder, two counts of felonious assault and one count of tampering with evidence. Smith was shot once on his 34th birthday with a .45-caliber handgun after an argument, according to prosecutors. Police located the weapon hidden inside a dresser drawer.
Montgomery County Common Pleas Court Judge Gregory Singer ruled prosecutors will be able to present evidence that Davis had verbal altercations in which she threatened to kill Smith. Singer also ruled that Davis’ defense attorney can’t present evidence that Smith was a drug dealer.
“(Smith) informed neighbors he was moving out of the home he shared with (Davis) the day before the shooting,” Montgomery County assistant prosecutor Kraig Chadrick wrote in a motion to use so-called bad prior acts. “When interviewed by detectives following the shooting, (Davis) claimed it was an accident.
“It follows that the evidence set forth above goes to show (Davis’) motive for shooting (Smith) as well as a lack of mistake or accident and will be admitted by the State for reason other than (Davis’) character.”
Defense attorney Anthony VanNoy argued against such evidence, saying it would be highly prejudicial to Davis.
“It is impermissible to allow the jury to decide her guilt and sentence, not on the specific facts of the incident she is charged,” VanNoy wrote. “But rather by using unreliable, inaccurate accounts of a prior altercation made by bias neighbors, who grew up with Smith, and may have been taking money from him in exchange for their silence about his drug activities.”
In a written motion, prosecutors also asked Singer to deny information that Smith was involved in drug activity, such as “video surveillance systems, firearms and a safe containing suspected heroin.”
Chadrick wrote that “whether or not the decedent was involved in drug activity is not an essential element of any charge contained in the indictment.”
VanNoy argued Smith’s activities should be fair game.
“Smith’s daily drug activity is relevant because it highlights the lifestyle and toxic environment in which him and Davis had grown accustomed to living,” VanNoy wrote. “Drugs were a constant part of life in the household. Smith frequently carried his gun to protect himself while carrying out his drug activities.”
Chadrick also asked Singer to prevent VanNoy from “commenting on, questioning witnesses, or presenting evidence regarding battered woman syndrome,” which he said is a part of a self-defense claim and not consistent with an accidental shooting defense.
The judge said he would deny VanNoy’s motion unless he could provide evidence that other courts have allowed evidence of battered-women type activity without claiming that defense.