By Marc Klaas
In the opening statement for the penalty trial Lorena Chandler asked the jury to consider the mitigating factors that led to Pollyís murder. She said that there were things in the background; things that happened in his formative years, things that caused his family to fall apart that created this damaged human being. As has happened so often in the past the defense tantalized us with dramatic tidbits only to present us with a much less dramatic reality that explains nothing.
The killerís mother was not an affectionate woman and she drank too much. Evelyn Smith kept a clean house, made her children bathe every night and dressed them in clean clothes. They attended school regularly and by all accounts were average children. Because of the erratic nature of the testimony it is unclear when she left her failed marriage to Robert Davis and abandoned her five children. One thing that is very clear is that Evelyn was and is not an evil woman.
Longshoreman Robert Davis intimidated and sometimes frightened those he encountered. He loved his children and worked two or three jobs to ensure that their needs were met. To compensate for his absence he made sure that there was always a strong female role model in the family. One permanent baby-sitter, Pearl Willhite, moved onto the Davis property in LaHonda, California with her two daughters and raised the Davis children as if they were her own. Her love for the kids is obvious. When describing the funeral of little Patty Davis, Pearl said that she felt she was filling the role of the missing mother. In her heartfelt testimony Pearl said that Robert helped her to escape a failed relationship with a physically abusive husband. They took the children to the beach and on other outings. These are the sins of the father.
There is no indication of the dark forces that created the monster on trial for killing little Polly. Instead, we are presented with a portrait of a family struggling to survive with dignity as have so many before and since. Robert Davis did not beat his children, did not drink or abuse drugs. A series of women: Aunt Irene Davis, Grandma Davis and Pearl Willhite loved and raised the children. Three of the four surviving children chose to live within the law and become productive citizens. Only one, the monster Ricky chose to boomerang upon a society ready to accept him into the brotherhood of mankind.
KlaasKids Foundation P.O. Box 925, Sausalito, CA 94966
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