Sep. 1—ANDERSON — An Anderson man serving a 108-year prison sentence for the 2000 slaying of a 13-year-old girl is seeking to have his sentence reduced.
Joshua Davies was 16 years old at the time of the murder of Jessica Lyons and an attack on her stepsister, Lindsay Haston.
A post-conviction relief hearing is set for 9 a.m. Sept. 8 in Madison Circuit Court Division 1.
Davies was on electronic monitoring for a parole violation at the time of the May 3, 2000, attack.
He broke into his next-door-neighbor’s home in Anderson by cutting a screen and opening a kitchen window, according to court records. Davies then unlocked the back door, entered Lyons’ bedroom, hit her on the head with a hammer and attempted to rape her.
He reportedly struck Lyons with a hammer as many as 11 times. Her screams woke Haston, who rushed to Lyons’ room where Davies hit her in the head with the hammer until she “blacked out.”
Lyons was rushed to the emergency room but died of multiple blunt-force head injuries. Haston required surgery for her injuries.
Soon after the incident, police apprehended Davies and charged him with criminal confinement, rape, child molesting, burglary, aggravated battery, murder, criminal deviate conduct and eight counts of death penalty enhancement. On Dec. 27, 2000, Davies pleaded guilty to murder, burglary, criminal deviate conduct and aggravated battery.
During his sentencing, Davies maintained he didn’t intentionally kill Lyons.
The Indiana Court of Appeals upheld his conviction and 108-year sentence, noting that the killing of Lyons was intentional.
In the petition for post-conviction relief, Davies’ attorneys contend he was denied effective legal representation and that 108 years in prison is essentially a life sentence without parole.
The post-conviction relief filing contends Davies’ guilty plea was coerced.
“He was ‘so gripped by fear of the death penalty … that he did not or could not, without the help of counsel, rationally weigh the advantages of going to trial against advantages of pleading guilty,” the court document reads.
The petition also claims that the defense counsel failed to present evidence that Davies did not intentionally kill Lyons.
For the past 18 years, a local charity ride has raised scholarship money in memory of Lyons and Lynsey Schildmeier, who was killed in a double homicide in 2007. Craig Shank was convicted of that crime and was sentenced to life without parole.
Follow Ken de la Bastide on Twitter @KendelaBastide, or call 765-640-4863.