Uncle pleads guilty in child’s death

Published 12:04 am Thursday, September 20, 2012



The man who shot and killed his 4-year-old nephew in Opp in 2010 will spend the rest of his life in prison.

John Curtis Davis III, 28, pleaded guilty Wednesday to reckless murder before specially appointed Circuit Court Judge David Baker. He was represented by local attorneys, Rod Sylv-ester and Mark Chris-tensen.

Davis initially faced a capital murder charge after the July 16, 2010, incident, in which he shot Curtis Alex-ander Ruede,4, in the chest with a pellet gun. He could have faced the death penalty.

A group of family and friends – including Ruede’s mother and grandmother – attended the proceedings, and at points, could be heard crying in the courtroom.

“By pleading guilty, you end any speculation of guilt…and you give up the right to an appeal,” Baker told Davis.

When questioned, Davis, who was handcuffed and under armed guard, gave clear and concise answers; however, he did not make any statements about the shooting to the bench or to the family.

Davis agreed when assistant District Attorney Paul Adams outlined the circumstances leading up to the shooting.

“For some reason, (Davis) became angry, and during the course, fired a .177 pellet gun, the bullet hitting the child in the chest, causing death,” Adams said.

As Adams read the description and Baker handed down the sentence, tears streamed down Ruede’s mother – Kimberly Harris’ – face.

While there was no comment from the court on with or without the possibility of parole, Davis may be eligible for release, “many, many years in the future,” Christensen said to family members.

District Attorney Walt Merrell said, “The death of a child is something that a family never gets over. Even though – in time – this family may be able to accept that Curtis is gone, the sense of loss will be with them forever.”

“Such a tragic situation becomes even more emotional because the person responsible was Curtis’s uncle,” he said. “ It was hard for this family to come to terms with the way to resolve the case, but after several conversations, all of the family representatives agreed that this life sentence was the best acceptable result to all of them.”