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Ferrell pleads guilty to death of Jessie Davis

CANTON – Minutes before a jury was to begin considering her fate, a woman struck a deal that will give prosecutors important testimony against a city police officer accused in the slaying of a pregnant woman.

Myisha Ferrell, 30, of Canton, the high school classmate of Patrolman Bobby Cutts Jr., pleaded guilty yesterday to two counts in the death of Jessie Davis, including helping dispose of the body, which she admitted to with a barely audible “guilty.”

The plea gives prosecutors a witness with firsthand knowledge of the crime, but leaves many questions in the case publicly unanswered until Cutts’ trial on aggravated murder and other charges begins Feb. 4. He could face the death penalty if convicted.

Davis, 26, was believed missing for nine days in June, and thousands gathered to search grassy fields and woods close to her home near North Canton, about 45 miles south of Cleveland.

Prosecutors say Ferrell knew what happened to Davis and she pleaded guilty yesterday in Stark County Common Pleas Court to obstructing justice for lying to authorities. She also admitted to complicity to gross abuse of a corpse.

Ferrell was sentenced to two years in prison and will be eligible for release after one year, according to the terms of her plea agreement. She had faced up to six years in prison if convicted on both counts.

Ferrell agreed to testify against Cutts, 30, who has been suspended from the Canton police force. Investigators say Davis was killed in her home June 14 in northeast Ohio’s Lake Township, near North Canton.

Authorities have not said how she died, or what motive there may have been behind her killing.

Ferrell’s attorney, John Alexander, said after the hearing that the plea agreement was a result of more than a dozen hours of weekend negotiations. The plea-agreement papers weren’t signed until 8:15 a.m., 15 minutes before opening statements were scheduled for the trial.

“It was pretty contentious, both sides were dug in and both sides believed in their case,” Alexander said. He called the decision to plead guilty “a business decision.”

“She is very upset about the whole situation. Unfortunately, I’m not allowed to go into her side of the story,” said Alexander, citing Cutts’ pending trial.

Alexander would only say that his client’s testimony in the Cutts’ case is important.

Stark County Prosecutor John Ferrero wouldn’t comment about what weight Ferrell’s testimony would carry at Cutts’ trial. He said Davis’ family backed prosecutors on the Ferrell plea agreement.

“It’s a good solution,” Ferrero said.

Ferrell’s mother left the courthouse holding her coat over her face as she passed television cameras. A brother, who would identify himself only as Mr. Robinson, said of his sister, “She’s doing OK.”

Davis’ mother, Patricia Porter, father, Ned Davis, and sister Whitney Davis, left the courthouse without commenting on the plea.

A day after Davis was killed, Porter found her 2 1/2-year-old grandson, Blake, alone in Davis’ home. The boy provided authorities with the first clues, saying: “Mommy was crying. Mommy broke the table.”

A timeline of key events in the death of Jessie Davis in northeast Ohio:

June 15: Davis’ mother, Patricia Porter, goes to her daughter’s home to check on her and discovers Davis’ 2-year-old son, Blake, alone and Davis’ bedroom in disarray. The boy tells investigators: “Mommy was crying. Mommy broke the table. Mommy’s in rug.”

June 16-17: Law enforcement and neighbors search the area near Davis’ home for signs of her disappearance.

June 20: The FBI and sheriff’s department search Canton Patrolman Bobby Cutts Jr.’s home, removing numerous boxes and bags of items.

June 21: Texas EquuSearch leads a three-day search for Davis involving more than 1,800 volunteers.

June 23: Authorities recover Davis’ body in Cuyahoga Valley National Park about 25 miles from her home in neighboring Summit County. Cutts is arrested on two murder charges.

June 24: Summit County Medical Examiner Lisa Kohler makes a positive identification of the body as that of Davis with the fetus dead inside her womb. Authorities arrest Myisha Ferrell, a high-school classmate of Cutts, on an obstruction of justice charge.

June 25: Cutts is ordered held on $5 million bond.

Aug. 1: Medical examiner says she was unable to determine how Davis was killed, listing her death as “unspecified homicidal violence.”

Aug. 23: Grand jury indicts Cutts on three counts of aggravated murder and other charges. Prosecutors say they will seek the death penalty against him. Ferrell is indicted on one count each of obstructing justice and complicity to gross abuse of a corpse.

Nov. 5: Ferrell pleads guilty to both charges, is sentenced to two years in prison and agrees to testify against Cutts.

Source: The Associated Press

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