Teenagers accused of gang raping a Garden District woman to stand trial this summer

Two of the three teenagers accused of abducting, robbing and raping a Garden District woman have since made calls from the recorded jailhouse phone, prosecutors say. During the conversations, they allegedly copped to their involvement in the crime, and suggest to the person on the receiving end that they might spend a couple years in jail because of it.

Assistant District Attorney Jason Napoli mentioned the phone conversations at a hearing Friday morning, and told the court that he wanted to set the record straight – all three teens are facing far more than two years behind bars if found guilty at trial, scheduled for later this summer.

Christopher Davis, 18, Joseph Davis, 17, and Sheldon Jefferson, 15, are each charged with aggravated kidnapping, armed robbery and four counts of aggravated rape. If convicted, Christopher Davis will face a mandatory sentence of life in prison without the possibility of parole on both the rape and kidnapping charges, with up to another 99 years tacked on top for the robbery. Because Joseph Davis and Jefferson are minors, the law requires that they would one day become eligible for parole.

Friday’s hearing was a continuation of one earlier in May, in which Orleans Parish Criminal District Judge Franz Zibilich was tasked with deciding whether statements two of the teens made to police would be admissible at trial.

The trio allegedly approached a 30-year-old woman walking from her car on Eighth Street on the evening of Feb. 4. They allegedly forced her at gunpoint into a nearby car, and drove her around for an hour, stopping by ATMs to make her withdraw money while repeatedly raping and beating her.

Then they took her back to her block, pushed her out of a moving vehicle and stole her car. The woman was taken to the hospital, where police collected DNA samples and the woman was treated for cuts, bruises and scratches.

Police circulated a photograph captured by a camera at one of the ATMs – which allegedly pictured Jefferson, the 15-year-old, in a black hooded sweatshirt.

His mother saw the photo, and took him to the police station to turn him in three days after the incident.

Jefferson, now represented by Morris Reed Jr., reportedly confessed to his role in the crime and identified his two accomplices.

He knew Christopher Davis only by photograph and nickname, according to the testimony that NOPD Detective Derrick Williams gave at Thursday’s hearing.

Officers picked up Christopher Davis later that evening. He was questioned for eight minutes and denied being involved. He slept all day on his sofa, he told the detective.

The investigator ended the interview: “We’re not going to waste each other’s time, you’re playing with your freedom,” he said he told the boy.

As they walked away from the interview room, Davis allegedly blurted out: “All I did was drive.”

He then said he wanted to make a statement, and sat back down to describe what happened on the evening of Feb. 7, Williams said.

Christopher Davis’ attorney, Patrick Joseph, quizzed Williams on the interrogation, and suggested his client had not been properly informed of his rights and was perhaps goaded into a confession.

The third teen, Joseph Davis, was the only one of the bunch to keep quiet.

Zibilich on Friday denied defense attorneys’ requests that the statements and identifications of the other two be excluded from trial.

The three are currently slated to be tried together in July. Zibilich gave defense attorneys a deadline of next Friday to request that the teens be tried separately. Robert Jenkins, defending Joseph Davis, suggested he would do so.

Even if they are tried separately, Zibilich said that he intends to finish the trials by the end of the summer.

The ordeal has apparently caused a rift between the teens and their families, who were packed in the gallery. They each sat far apart from one another in court, and Zibilich warned them to behave or they would be thrown out of the courtroom.