Trial begins in murder of Carrollton teen killed before sexual assault trial

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by MARCUS MOORE, MARJORIE OWENS & TODD UNGER

Bio | Email | Follow: @toddWFAA8

WFAA

Posted on November 4, 2013 at 12:04 PM

Updated Monday, Nov 4 at 9:12 PM

DALLAS — The trial began Monday morning in the case of an Irving man accused of luring a teen to her death in an attempt to avoid conviction in a sexual assault case.

Authorities say Franklin Davis, 30, killed 16-year-old Shania Gray on Sept. 6, 2012 after he posed as a young boy on Facebook to lure the teen into meeting him. The teen's body was found by a biker in the Trinity River near Irving. She suffered two gunshot wounds.

In opening statements Monday, prosecutors said the murder was calculated.

"That's what this case is about — drowning innocence in deceit, deception and debauchery," said the prosecuting attorney.

According to prosecutors, the victim was scheduled to testify against Davis in October of 2012. The Hebron High School student accused Davis of sexual assault in March of 2010.

Davis' attorney countered evidence does not prove capital murder and denied the suspect assaulted the teen as originally accused.

"No one every questions it.  Nobody questions whether it happened or not," contended defense attorney Karo Johnson.

Gray was a babysitter for Davis' youngest daughter.

On the stand Monday, Sherry Gray-James — the victim's mother — said she became aware of advances made by Davis through text messages on her daughter's cellphone, which Davis gave the teen.

According to Gray-James, messages urged the teen to "come over" and read, "I want you; I just can't have you."

In an interview with WFAA in September, Davis admitted to shooting Gray, but denied any type of inappropriate relationship with the Carrollton teen.

"The sexual assaults never happened," he said during the interview. "The sexual assaults that were said that I done — that I never did — that's pretty much how everything led up to the end of how everything happened."

Davis also admitted to posing as a teen boy on a Facebook profile he created. The capital murder suspect said he created the account and used a throwaway phone in an attempt to establish a relationship with Gray and find evidence to disprove the assault allegations.

"It was my word against hers and apparently that wasn't going to be enough," he said. "... I felt like I needed to do some footwork myself. I needed to get some evidence myself to show that I did not have sex with her and she's lying."

Prosecutors spent much of Monday trying to establish a premises for their case by also calling a Hebron High School teacher and school resource officer to the stand.

The two went over the girl's final moments at school, including how she was texting and became "excited." 

The jury was shown surveillance footage from school cameras showing Gray leaving the school after a tutoring session, although the footage doesn't directly show the teen getting into a car with Davis.

In December of 2012, Davis escaped custody after overpowering a deputy and stealing his gun while receiving medical treatment at Parkland Hospital. He was apprehended about one mile from the hospital the same day of his escape.

If convicted, Davis could be sentenced to death.

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