A Tacoma man gets 26+ years in death of girlfriend's 3-year-old son

Staff writerApril 25, 2014 

Derrick Myers tried to back out of his plea agreement Friday, contending he was "railroaded" into admitting he killed his girlfriend's 3-year-old son in Tacoma last spring.

Judge Jack Nevin wasn't having it.

The Pierce County Superior Court judge ruled Myers' plea to first-degree murder valid and then sentenced the 29-year-old man to 26 years, eight months in prison in the death of Terric Davis.

"This child was innocent," Nevin said in handing down the high-end sentence requested by deputy prosecutors Sabrina Ahrens and Heather de Maine. "His life was taken in what appears to be a most brutal way."

The boy died at Mary Bridge Children's Hospital in April 2013.

His mother, Denise Roper, took him there after she returned home from work and found the boy on the bathroom floor complaining of stomach pain. Myers had been watching Terric and another of Roper's children while she worked.

An autopsy found the boy had suffered a skull fracture and multiple internal injuries. Medical examiners said he was the victim of homicide.

Detectives determined the fatal wounds only could have been inflicted while Terric was in Myers' care, and he was charged with first-degree murder. Prosecutors also said the crime was aggravated by the fact that Terric was incapable of defending himself and that Myers abused a position of trust. 

He pleaded guilty to first-degree murder last month after Ahrens and de Maine agreed to drop the aggravating circumstances, which could have increased his sentence.

Ahrens said Friday that Myers did nothing to help the boy before Terric's mother got home that day. In fact, she said, he went to sleep while Roper took her son to the hospital.

"It's unimaginable," the deputy prosecutor said. "He deserves every single day of every single month of that sentence."

Roper, who cried throughout the proceedings, then addressed the court.

"Losing him was the worst thing in my life," she said of her son. "He was innocent, and he shouldn't have suffered the way that he did."

Defense attorney Dino Sepe then urged Nevin to accept the terms of the plea deal and sentence his client to the high end, saying the recommendation had been "carefully worked out" with prosecutors.

Myers then took his turn.

He'd previously sent a letter to the court saying he pleaded guilty "out of fear" and didn't think he'd been adequately represented by Sepe, a veteran public defender, and Michael Kawamura, the head of the county's Department of Assigned Counsel.

Myers said Friday he was being sentenced for "something I didn't do, because no one wanted to give me a chance."

Nevin acknowledged receiving Myers' letter and said it would be filed in the record.

But the judge said there was no reason to rescind the plea deal and moved forward with the sentencing.


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