CANYON CITY – Don Curtis Davis died last Thursday, March 28, of a self-inflicted gunshot, just hours before he was scheduled to enter a plea to child sex abuse charges in a Prairie City case.
Formerly a Prairie City resident, Davis had been staying with friends in the Laycock Creek area. The occupants called police about 6:30 a.m. after discovering that Davis had left the house and a pistol was missing, police said.
Grant County Undersheriff Todd McKinley said that just as he pulled up to the residence, the occupants heard a shot.
McKinley said he and Oregon State Police Sgt. Tom Hutchison found Davis’s body about 300 yards from the house.
Davis, 68, had been expected to enter a plea in the Prairie City sex abuse case that morning in Grant County Circuit Court in Canyon City.
At the scheduled hearing time, Circuit Judge William D. Cramer Jr. dismissed the case after getting confirmation of the death from District Attorney Ryan Joslin.
Cramer noted that Davis’ death could increase the trauma for his victim, “so the parents need to be extra sensitive to that.”
He also urged the Victims Assistance office to look into funds for additional counseling for the child.
After the hearing, Joslin said he believed Davis was ready to agree to a plea deal, and that the most recent negotiations focused on how much prison time would be required.
The case began last July when a grand jury indicted Davis on three counts of first-degree sexual abuse, three counts of third-degree sexual abuse, one count of third-degree attempted sodomy, and one count of unlawful possession of oxycontin. The abuse charges stemmed from contacts with a child under the age of 18 on July 14.
The plea hearing was postponed twice due to evidence testing delays at the state crime lab.
The suicide left the family frustrated and angry. The victim’s mother said it felt like Davis “took the easy way out” by not taking responsibility for what he had done.
“He robbed my son of his childhood, and now he’s robbed us of justice and of closure,” she said.
“He doesn’t have to face the consequences, but my son will live with this for the rest of his life.”
Leading up to the hearing last week, she and other relatives felt some measure of justice might be in reach.
The mother said that although the prosecution and defense were at odds over the length of a sentence Davis should face, the plea negotiations must have made it clear to him that there would be prison time – not just time served or probation.
“He knew today was going to determine that one way or another,” she said after the final court session.
She said it was hard to hear “case dismissed” that morning.
Her son was in shock after hearing the news, she said, and the family is concerned that he will take responsibility for Davis’ decision to kill himself.
It’s like being victimized again, she said.
“I’ve very angry about that,” she said. “I’ve cried tears today, but they’re not of sympathy for (Davis).”Read more on bluemountaineagle.com.