From the Office of Bill Eddins, State Attorney for the First Judicial Circuit of Florida
Bill Eddins, State Attorney for the First Judicial Circuit of Florida, announced that on Jan. 16, a Walton County Jury determined that life in prison without the possibility of parole is the appropriate sentence for Barry Trynell Davis, Jr.
Davis was previously convicted of two counts of first degree murder in 2015 and was sentenced to death. However, at the time he was sentenced to death, the law did not require jurors to be unanimous in their decision regarding the appropriate sentence, and although they were unanimous in convicting him, they were not unanimous in what his sentence should be. Judge Kelvin Wells followed the jury’s majority recommendation and sentenced the Defendant to death.
While the defendant’s case was on appeal, the law was changed and now requires that a verdict for death must be unanimous. The Florida Supreme Court upheld the defendant’s convictions for murder, but his death sentence was vacated and a new trial – only for the purpose of determining the appropriate sentence – was ordered.
The evidence showed that on May 7, 2012, Barry Trynell Davis, Jr. murdered John Gregory Hughes and Heidi Ann Rhodes in Hughes’ home in Grayton Beach. The defendant attacked Hughes while Rhodes and the Defendant’s girlfriend had gone to the store, leaving Hughes bloodied and unconscious in his bedroom. Once the two women returned from the store, the defendant attacked Heidi Ann Rhodes. The defendant then bound them with duct tape and drowned them in Hughes’ bathtub. The victims’ bodies have never been located.
In the days following the murders, the defendant returned to the residence and stole nearly every possession belonging to Hughes. The defendant also forged three checks and stole Hughes’ Cadillac Escalade truck.
Numerous possessions, including furniture, artwork, televisions, clothing, fishing and diving equipment, a scooter, and other items belonging to Hughes were found at the defendant’s home, in the defendant’s storage unit, in the homes of friends of Davis who helped move all the furniture, from a local pawn shop, and from a home where items had been sold by Davis’ girlfriend on Craigslist.
There is no evidence that anything of value was taken from Heidi Ann Rhodes, who was Mr. Hughes’ girlfriend. The evidence showed that the primary motive for her murder was to eliminate her as a witness who could identify Davis as the man who murdered Hughes.
The jury responsible for the resentencing heard testimony and arguments this week and reached their decision Jan. 16, 2020. The jury had two options for the Defendant’s sentence: life without the possibility of parole, or death. A death sentence could only be rendered if the jury was unanimous in that determination. After deliberating, the jury issued a verdict that life without the possibility of parole was the appropriate sentence.
Circuit Judge Kelvin Wells immediately sentenced the defendant to two consecutive life sentences without the possibility of parole and ordered that he be sent back to the Department of Corrections, where he has been since 2015.
The case was investigated by the Walton County Sheriff’s Office. The original trial was prosecuted by former Assistant State Attorney Robert Elmore, and the re-sentencing trial was prosecuted by Assistant State Attorney Clifton Drake. Any questions may be directed to Bill Bishop at (850) 651-7260.