BUFFALO, Mo.– When he walked into the Dallas County Courthouse at 1:49 p.m. on Tuesday, August 6th, Kenneth Davis was facing second-degree murder. When he left, the charges were different.
Davis is in the custody of the Dallas County Jail for allegedly killing his girlfriend’s daughter, 2-year-old Kinzlea Kilgore, back in May of 2018.
A probable cause statement says an autopsy revealed the 2-year-old suffered fatal head injuries.
Back then, Davis told authorities the head injuries came from Kilgore falling out of the window of a parked truck. The probable cause statement says the injuries discovered during the autopsy were not consistent with that story.
A motion to change Davis’ charge from second-degree murder to “abuse of a child resulting in death”, filed by Dallas County Prosecuting Attorney Johnathan Barker, received no argument from the defense on Tuesday.
The new charge, according to Barker, carries with it the same weight as a second-degree murder charge.
Barker says both are Class A felonies and both (pending a conviction) threaten sentences of 10-30 years in prison, or in some cases life in prison. Finally, both require 85% of the sentence be served before any option for parole is made available.
“It’s the most severe penalty we can seek other than the death penalty,” he said Tuesday.
But if both carry the same sentence, and both technically accurate charges for the crime committed, why seek a different charge?
Barker says the answer is simple: Specificity.
“I seek to pursue the most accurate charge in any case,” he said, adding that “child abuse resulting in death” alleges the crimes facing Davis with more specificity than just “murder”.
That specification is already being applauded by Kinzlea Kilgore’s surviving family members.
“Selfishly, I kind of like this charge better,” one family member told Ozarks First outside the courthouse.
The benefit, he said, was that the new charge will instantly inform others that the victim of Davis’ alleged crime was a child.
Whether the Dallas County Prosecutor’s office will seek the maximum penalty (life in prison), Barker said that “depends on how the case develops.”
Davis, who is also facing abuse child abuse charges in Greene County, is set to appear before a jury for those alleged crimes on September 9.
Davis’ Dallas County arraignment is scheduled for September 17, at 1:30 p.m.
If you want to read more about either case, click the story link below.