There is a lot going on in the world right now (COVID-19 pandemic, George Floyd protests) that overshadowed Mike Davis’s sentencing hearing on May 28, 2020. Back in January I asked if Mike Davis’s local celebrity status matters because his attorney filed for a CBCF on the same day another local man, Brian Eley, in an adjacent county, was sentenced to 8 years in prison for a substantially similar crime. (Post: Two Cases. Similar Facts. Does Celebrity Matter?) Brian Eley pled to 10 counts of child pornography while Mike Davis was only indicted on 4 counts, despite having over 15,000 images of child pornography.
On January 30, 2020, Mike Davis plead guilty to three F2 counts of pandering sexually oriented matter involving a minor and one F4 count of pandering sexually oriented mater involving a minor. His offenses carry a presumption that a prison term is applicable but can be reduced to probation if the court makes certain findings.
Each F2 carries a potential maximum of eight years and the F4 carries a maximum prison term of eighteen months. His maximum potential prison term was 25.5 years. Some of the images for which he was indicted occurred prior to a March 2019 felony sentencing change and require definite prison terms, and one F2 count occurred after the sentencing change and is subject to indefinite prison term sentencing. But the maximum time of incarceration remains the same – 25.5 years.
Mike Davis received definite prison sentences of four years on two F2 counts, an indefinite prison sentence of 4 – 6 years on the remaining F2, and a one year definite prison sentence on the F4 count. The judge could have run all counts consecutive in which case he would be spending at least thirteen years in prison; but she didn’t, she ran them concurrently. Mike Davis will spend at least 4 years in prison but no longer than 6 years. Brian Eley, with far fewer images is spending 8 years in prison. (Read Mike Davis’s Sentencing Entry).
Both will have a mandatory five years of post-release control supervision, and Tier II Sex Offender registration requirements. Mike Davis will have been out of prison for four years when Brian Eley first registers as sex offender upon his release.
Did Mike Davis’s local-celebrity status result in a lesser sentence?
Sure, there are some differences and other factors to consider but these cases are strikingly similar. One judge is a Democrat and the other a Republican, one county trends Democratic while the other trends Republican, and Brian Eley previously sought help for his pedophilic urges (Mike Davis did start counseling until he got caught) – but that is where the differences end. Both defendants have no criminal history, and neither had inappropriate physical contact with a minor. I don’t believe there is a difference in representation as I read both memorandums arguing for probation for each and both attorneys did a great job outlining why probation was appropriate in their client’s case.
So why the difference in sentences? It’s hard to definitely say Mike Davis’s (prior) celebrity status help him but with only a 4 year prison sentence for over 15,000 images compared to Brian Eley’s 8 years in prison, it certainly appears that celebrity matters.