MARTINEZ -- Shemeeka Davis cried hysterically Friday afternoon after a jury determined she was sane when she tortured and abused her twin niece and nephew until the girl died in 2008.
"I'm glad the jury saw what was kept behind locked doors in that closet," Contra Costa deputy district attorney Satish Jallepalli said.
The jury deliberated for just over an hour Friday before reaching its verdict. Davis now faces multiple life prison sentences.
Jazzmin Davis, 15, and her twin brother had spent months locked in a small, bare and dark closet for months before Jazzmin died on Sept. 2, 2008 of malnutrition exacerbated by long-term physical abuse. Jazzmin was 5 feet, 7 inches tall and weighed 78 pounds when she died; both twins were covered in burns, scars, cuts and bruises.
The jury on June 16 found Shemeeka Davis guilty of first-degree murder and two counts each of felony child abuse and torture. In the second phase of the trial, the defense attempted to prove Shemeeka Davis was legally insane and should be hospitalized because she did not know what she was doing was morally or legally wrong.
The prosecutor argued Davis went to great lengths to hide the abuse from other family members, neighbors, doctors, social workers and the rest of the outside world, which he said demonstrated that she knew what she was doing was wrong.
Deputy public defender Betty Barker argued that Davis suffered from a delusional disorder that prevented
"It's tragic," Barker said. "There's no doubt that she's extremely mentally ill and no one ever stepped up to the plate to help her.
"She's devastated that she lost her niece that she loved," Barker added. "She's still very mentally ill. Even on medication, she was disassociating during the trial."
The twins' paternal aunt, Davis was a 22-year-old single mother of two young boys when she took custody of the twins as infants. She and won permanent guardianship six days before her death with help from a San Francisco social worker. The San Francisco Human Services Agency paid Jazzmin's twin a $4 million settlement for its negligence. The Antioch Unified School District paid him $750,000 and overhauled its policy on tracking students who drop from attendance records.
"Justice has been served," said the twins' maternal aunt, Mysha Gregory. "Shemeeka said she didn't have any support. She didn't want or allow support. She kept the twins from my family."
Attorneys return to court Tuesday to discuss scheduling a sentencing date.
Contact Malaika Fraley at 925-234-1684. Follow her at Twitter.com/malaikafraley.