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Davis Sentenced To Life, Two 25-Year Terms

July 2, 1987

CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (AP) _ A retired mechanic who killed the mayor of Mount Pleasant was sentenced to life in prison Thursday, still insisting he had no choice but to open fire on the City Council to settle a dispute over sewer damage to his basement.

Ralph Orin Davis was convicted last month of first-degree murder in the Dec. 10 shooting death of Mayor Edward King and two counts of attempted murder in the wounding of council members Joann Sankey and Ronald Dupree.

Davis, 69, was sentenced to life in prison for killing King and received two concurrent 25-year terms for attempted murder.

Defense attorneys had argued that Davis suffered from a stress disorder from his time as a prisoner of the Japanese in World War II. But Davis testified he did not think much of the insanity defense and said he intended to kill the city officials when he shot them.

″I think the whole thing is such a waste,″ said Viola King, the mayor’s widow.

Mrs. King said the life sentence in no way makes up for her loss and the loss felt by the city of Mount Pleasant.

At the sentencing, Davis asked District Judge Harlan Bainter to explain what choice he had other than to shoot King, Dupree and Ms. Sankey after the council refused to honor bills for damage caused by a backed up storm sewer.

Bainter tried to tell Davis he should have relied on the courts for help.

″I went to a judge and he told me there was nothing I could do. Is he a liar?″ Davis asked.

Bainter asked if Davis knew of any reason why he should not be sentenced. ″No,″ Davis replied.

Bainter also said he would enter an order later for restitution of the victims. He said Davis will have to pay court costs of $577.

Defense attorney T.K. Ford said he was uncertain whether he would appeal. Henry County Attorney Michael Riepe said the life sentence, mandatory with the first-degree murder conviction, does not carry the possiblity of parole unless a governor commutes it to a fixed term.

Davis said during the trial that he took his .22-caliber semi-automatic handgun and walked to City Hall where he waited until a council meeting was nearly complete.

He said he walked in and shot Dupree in the head and then fired at Ms. Sankey and King.

King died after being shot twice in the head. Dupree was shot in the ear and the neck. He testified that he suffers from flashbacks where he sees Davis and the gun.

Ms. Sankey, shot once over the eye and twice in the chest, suffered a brain injury that a doctor testified changed her personality.

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