Quartavious Davis (pictured) is a first-time offender who was convicted of armed robbery in April. Even though the gun he fired did not shoot anyone, he received a stiffer than stiff sentence from a Florida judge for his crime: 1,941 months or 161 years in prison, reports the Huffington Post. Davis’ new attorney, Jacqueline Shapiro, is now appealing her client’s case to the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta, arguing that it constitutes “cruel and unusual punishment.”
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Beginning his robberies in August 2010 and running for two months straight, Davis, 20, took part in a string of robberies as an 18- and- 19-year-old teen. The young man was also an accomplice in seven commercial property robberies and acted violently in them all.
The 162 years imposed on Davis was because of a “stacked” sentence, where each individual indictment is considered a separate offense and jail time is served consecutively, not concurrently.
At an auto supply shop, Davis, an unemployed high school drop-out, shot at a dog that chased him. When he and his accomplices held up a beauty salon, he brandished a gun and was reportedly aggressive toward a man who was present, threatening to kill him. When he helped to rob a Wendy’s fast-food establishment, Davis and a random customer, who could never positively ID him to police investigators, exchanged gunfire.
In his trial, Davis’ legal team attempted to paint a picture of a young man who grew up in an impoverished environment in Miami-Dade County. Growing up with his aunt, Davis was labeled as not only bipolar but learning disabled.
Although Davis was not at the helm of the crime ring, he is being treated as such. The five other men who accompanied Davis on the crime runs cut deals and were handed lighter sentences from nine to 22 years. Davis was not offered a plea deal and was the only one who stood trial.
Why did Davis get the brunt of harsh sentencing? Because according to his accomplices’ testimonies, Davis was the one who fired shots during the robberies. The accounts were uncorroborated.
The state of Florida, which has a history of zealous prosecutors, leads the country in the number of juveniles who have been sentenced to life for crimes that are lesser than acts of murder. Now the southern state — as well as other states — are re-examining how to resentence and grant parole to inmates who have been victimized by cruel and unusual rulings.
Wifredo Ferrer, the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Florida, doesn’t sympathize with Davis’ case. In May, Ferrerr said that the sentences “reflect the commitment of my office” to combat violent crime. “We will not allow our community to be overrun by guns and violence,” Ferrer said.
Coincidentally, the Supreme Court just ruled last week in a 5-4 decision that a state cannot mandate life imprisonment without parole for juveniles convicted of murder. Shapiro argues how “cruel and extreme” it is to impose a life sentence on a juvenile first-time offender who did not kill anyone.