The Colorado Court of Appeals on Thursday upheld convictions in a pair of bludgeoning murders from 1996 in Clifton.Verle James Mangum, now 29, is serving life without possibility of parole for the Feb. 15, 1996, murders of 42-year-old Janet Davis and her 11-year-old daughter, Jennifer Davis.The mother was found bludgeoned prosecutors believed with a baseball bat face down on the living room floor of her Clifton home, while her daughter was killed in her bedroom.This was one of the most heinous crimes in the history of our community and it is very gratifying to know for sure that he will be staying in prison for the rest of his life, District Attorney Pete Hautzinger said in a prepared statement.Hautzinger, then chief deputy district attorney, prosecuted the month-long murder trial that ended Jan. 29, 2003, with a jury convicting Mangum of first-degree murder in Janet Davis death, in addition to second-degree murder and child abuse resulting in death, in Jennifer Davis killing.Mangum was acquitted on a charge of sexual assault against a child.The prosecution argued Mangum was having sex with Jennifer Davis, when he was surprised by her mother. A panicked Mangum, high on methamphetamine, grabbed a baseball bat and killed Janet Davis before silencing her daughter with the same weapon.Mangum was defended at trial by attorney Colleen Scissors and Dick Gurley, now a Mesa County district court judge.
Mangums appellate attorney argued former District Judge Nicholas Massaro committed a host of errors, including his decision to allow prosecutors, during the trial, to voice their opinion that Jacob Kent Davis wasnt responsible for the murders. Mangums defense argued he was an alternative suspect. Jacob Kent Davis, father of the slain Jennifer Davis and Janet Davis ex-husband, was arrested and originally charged in the slayings, but the District Attorneys Office dropped the charges in January 1997. The case stayed cold until 2001, when Mesa County Sheriffs investigators learned Mangum had confessed the murders to his wife, Shawna Mangum. Shed reportedly confided in a Mesa County Human Services therapist, who passed the information on to investigators. On appeal, Mangums defense argued Massaro should have thrown out the therapists revelations because the statements were protected under therapist-client privilege. The appellate court disagreed. When finally contacted by investigators on May 5, 2001, Mangum ran and tried to slash his throat.Reach Paul Shockley at email@example.com