It’s been 28 years since Carol Davidson died a horrible death in her Tacoma apartment, but the pain of her loss is still fresh to those who loved her.
That was clear Friday in Pierce County Superior Court, where friends and relatives of the 46-year-old woman gathered to watch her killer, Christopher Leon Smith, be sentenced.
They cried, held hands and asked Judge Jack Nevin to give Smith as much time as possible for snuffing out a bright light in the world.
“Her voice echoes quietly in my heart every day,” said Teresa Vega, who was taken in by Davidson as a teenager after her own parents kicked her out. “She loved me more than my own mother did.”
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Nevin heeded their requests and that of deputy prosecutor Angelica Williams, sentencing Smith to 33 years in prison, the high end of the sentencing range.
The judge also ordered that the sentence be served after the 51-year-old man completes a separate sentence of 50 years to life he’s serving for an unrelated rape.
Nevin called Smith an unrepentant criminal whose life has reflected “a theme of violence, a theme of cruelty.”
“This was an act of extraordinary brutality,” the judge said of Davidson’s murder.
As part of his plea to second-degree murder earlier this month, Smith admitted binding, beating and strangling Davidson the night of Aug. 29, 1986. One of Davidson’s daughters found her mother’s body the next day.
Smith, who met Davidson at a convenience store the night he killed her, ran away and went on to commit a litany of other crimes before DNA evidence connected him to Davidson’s killing last year.
Prosecutors brought him back from prison to answer for Davidson’s death.
Davidson’s daughter, Angel Dewey, said her mother’s killing had a devastating effect on her family that still reverberates today.
“My family has suffered for a very long time,” Dewey told Nevin before he handed down the sentence.
Defense attorney Kent Underwood asked for a low-end sentence of nearly 25 years.
Smith took responsibility for Davidson’s killing, Underwood said. That should count for something, he said.
Nevin then gave Smith a chance to speak.
“I have nothing to say,” the defendant said.
So Nevin took his turn.
Smith didn’t just kill Davidson, the judge said, he humiliated her by leaving her bound, gagged and half-naked on the floor.
“She had every shred of dignity taken away from her, even in death,” Nevin said.
The judge also said Smith showed “a lack of remorse, a lack of regret.”
All that added up to a high-end sentence, Nevin said.
“Mrs. Davidson was a mom. She apparently also was a substitute mom,” the judge said. “She was a human being. She wasn’t a piece of property to be discarded.”