A dozen years after Steven Perry was killed, justice was served Monday when a 12-person jury convicted James Davis of first-degree murder.
Davis was accused of killing Perry in 2010 in Zephyrhills, dismembered his body and scattered parts across locations in Hillsborough and Pasco County.
Perry was a renowned artist closely associated with the show “Thundercats.” The two men were roommates in Zephyrhills at the time of the crime.
The guilty verdict was handed down after four hours of jury deliberation. It was a verdict that brought closure to many including the Zephyrhills Police Department, who played a major role the investigation.
ZPD Chief Derek Brewer handed tremendous praise to his staff and pointed to Sergeant Ailisa Starnes as a key to the case.
“Sergeant Starnes was on point during the investigation and during the trial, she was very important to the outcome of the case,” Brewer said. “I am very happy to find some justice for the family. That was the goal all along. They presented a great case as well.”
Davis has been in the Pasco County Detention Center since being arrested 12 years ago. The trial has been repeatedly delayed, but is finally over. Davis will learn his fate Tuesday when the judge hands down his sentence of either life in prison or the death penalty.
“It’s hard to believe it took this long to get to the point of a trial,” Brewer said. “It seems like we were getting subpoenas for years.”
There was plenty of physical evidence including surveillance videos, DNA and store receipts for items linking Davis to the murder.
“I actually let our staff do their thing,” Brewer said. “I knew they would take care of it. I didn’t get in their way and they did a phenomenal job. From the investigators to support staff preparing evidence, it was a great team effort.”