Mom gets 8-year sentence for baby’s death — (San Antonio Express-News)

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San Antonio Express-News

May 8, 1999

Author: Adolfo Pesquera, Express-News Staff Writer

Ingrid Davila, convicted of criminal negligence in the smothering death of her baby, was sentenced Friday to eight years in prison.

Initially charged with mandatory capital murder because the victim was under 6 years of age, Davila, 22, remained free on bail pending appeal.

Jurors gave Davila, 22, eights years in confinement after deciding a pillow is a deadly weapon, concluding the two-week trial in a way that was to no one’s satisfaction.

“This case has not left me with a good feeling,” said prosecutor Angus McGinty, who along with prosecutor Catherine Babbitt sought a life sentence for the March 1998 smothering death of 4-month-old Carly Davila. “There was no victim’s family here thanking us for a job well done.”

Anthony Nicholas, attorney for the defendant, expressed disappointment that the jury did not agree with their request for probation.

Co-counsel Bobby Barrera obtained an appeals bond of $60,000 on condition that Davila would remain on electronic monitoring and weekly drug tests.

“We feel that the chances of (the case) being reversed are very good,” Nicholas said.

Although prosecutors sought a capital murder guilty verdict, jurors found Davila guilty of the lesser offense of criminally negligent homicide, which carried maximum sentence of two years.

But in determining sentencing, the state convinced jurors to declare the pillow the mother was alleged to have used a deadly weapon. That finding allowed the range of punishment to go to two to 10 years.

Although the trial was about Carly’s death, jurors spent their Friday hearing evidence from a pending intoxication manslaughter case awaiting Davila in Zavala County to determine whether she poses a continuing threat to society.

Eight days after Carly’s death, Davila and her husband, Enrique “Henry” Davila, were returning from Eagle Pass when Davila wandered off U.S. 57 about 30 miles east of Eagle Pass, struck a guardrail and then bounced into an oncoming 18-wheeler.

A witness who followed behind Davila testified seeing her weave down the highway.

A Department of Public Safety trooper, Jose Salas, ordered a blood draw that resulted in a .26 reading of a controlled substance.

Babbitt questioned a toxicologist who described the .26 reading as that of a byproduct of cocaine.   However, Barrera questioned Davila’s psychiatrist, Kelly Cowan, who said the byproduct could also have come from the prescribed antidepressant medication Davila was taking.

Barrera also noted that a .26 reading for the chemical byproduct was not analogous to the .10 blood-alcohol level that impairs a person enough to legally prohibit someone from driving.

Jurors listened to witnesses who described Davila as a habitual drug user and witnesses who described her as a battered spouse who suffered several psychological conditions.

“That woman used drugs more than occasionally. It was a whole candy store of drugs,” Babbitt said. “Do you wonder at all, if on the day she suffocated her baby, drugs were around?”

The ruling on the death of Davila’s first child, a 5-month-old boy, was thought to be natural causes, but was later changed to undetermined.

Despite every piece of evidence against her, Davila’s in-laws stood by her.