Siler convicted of murder in 2019 shooting death of Michael Davis
Published 12:02 pm Friday, May 19, 2023
On Wednesday, a Covington County jury convicted Anthony James “A.J.” Siler Jr., 50, of Opp, of murder and abuse of a corpse for the July 2019 shooting death of Michael Devone Davis, 44, also of Opp. Assistant District Attorney Nikki Stephens and District Attorney Walt Merrell tried the matter for the state. The jury, comprised of four men and eight women, deliberated for about an hour before returning its guilty verdicts. Circuit Judge Charles “Lex” Short presided over the trial.
According to the district attorney’s office, evidence presented at the trial showed that on the evening of July 15, 2019, Siler had multiple interactions with Davis, in and around Childre Trailer Park in Opp, and at the Hardin Street Complex. Those interactions between Siler and Davis were progressively more intense, according to witnesses. One witness testified that at one point, Siler became irate by Davis discussing their sexual history, and began banging his fists on the dashboard of the car. Immediately afterwards, Siler told the same witness he would kill Davis.
Two other witnesses testified that they saw Siler later that night in route to Childre Trailer Park. They described seeing Siler swerve towards Davis as he walked down the road. Siler dismissed the swerve, testifying that he was only trying to avoid a pothole. Both eyewitnesses testified that Siler immediately exited his vehicle and approached Davis with a shotgun, which he had stuck behind the driver’s seat of his vehicle. Confronting Davis with the shotgun, both witnesses testified that there were a few words exchanged with Davis proclaiming, “I won’t back down,” right before Siler squeezed the trigger at point blank range. Both witnesses told the jury that Davis was unarmed when Siler shot him in the chest.
Siler then instructed one of the witnesses to load the body into Siler’s car, and threatened to kill both the witnesses and one’s family if they did not comply. Siler then drove away from Opp down Highway 331 towards Florala to New Hope Church Road, where he dumped Davis’ corpse in a swampy, pond area. Siler later confessed to police that he then returned to Opp, abandoned his vehicle and the gun at a vacant home on Mullins Street, and attempted to return to the crime scene to collect his dropped cell phone and the spent shot shell. Siler evaded police for the night, but was taken into custody in the Fleeta community the following morning.
Opp Police Chief Kevin Chance testified about the department’s initial response and investigation. The jury also heard testimony from OPD Captain Josh Hudson and Special Agent Senior Brian Harvin of the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency’s State Bureau of Investigations. Two witnesses from the Alabama Department of Forensic Sciences also testified as experts for the State. Firearms and Toolmarks Examiner Michelle Cuenco testified regarding distance testing she performed, concluding for the jury the gunshot wound to Davis’ body occurred between contact and no more than six feet. Dr. Edward Reedy performed the autopsy on Davis’ body and concluded Davis died by homicide, from a gunshot wound to his chest.
Finally, Andalusia Police Department Captain Brett Holmes, formerly an investigator with the District Attorney’s Office, testified about the interview he conducted with Siler, together with Chief Nickey Carnley, also an investigator with the District Attorney’s Office. Holmes recounted for the jury that Siler readily admitted he killed Davis, but claimed he acted in self-defense.
Siler took the stand in his own defense. Siler told the jury that Davis approached him with both a stick and a knife. Siler also testified that Davis dropped both weapons when confronted by Siler’s gun, and Siler shot him anyway. Siler admitted before the jury that the most important thing to him was what the “streets” thought about him.
Assistant District Attorney Nikki Stephens was the first chair prosecutor for the State.
“Perhaps more than with any other defendant I’ve prosecuted, AJ Siler showed absolutely no remorse for killing Michael,” Stephens said. “He shot an unarmed man because he had made his mind up to do so, and even told police that. His self-defense claim was bogus, and the lies continued to grow even during the trial with him on the stand. Society deserves to be protected from people like him.”
District Attorney Walt Merrell, who assisted Stephens with the prosecution, commented that he was proud “of the witnesses that came forward. These witnesses exemplify what our community is all about. They did the right thing, and AJ Siler now knows that the good people of Opp won’t stand for his kind of lawlessness.”
The prosecution thanked everyone who contributed to this investigation and prosecution, including the Opp Police Department, Covington County Sheriff’s Office, Andalusia Police Department, State Bureau of Investigations, Opp Fire Department, Coffee County Sheriff’s Office, and U.S. Marshals Fugitive Task Force. Stephens noted that she is “particularly grateful for the jury’s service and their attention to the small details that really revealed the true story about what happened to Michael. I appreciate their verdicts, and that Michael’s family has finally received long-awaited justice for his death.”
A sentencing hearing has been set for June 28 at 9 a.m. Murder is a Class A felony typically punishable with a sentence of 10 years to life imprisonment. Abuse of a Corpse is a Class C felony typically punishable with a sentence of up to 10 years. However, because Siler has five prior felony convictions, including one violent conviction for first-degree burglary, sentencing will be governed by Alabama’s Habitual Felony Offender Act. Considering Siler’s priors, he faces a mandatory sentence of life without the possibility of parole for murder and a sentence of 15 years to life for abuse of a corpse. Siler remains incarcerated in the Covington County Jail pending sentencing.
“We will ask the judge to give Silver the maximum sentence under the law and run the two sentences consecutively. He should spend his last days in a prison cell. He deserves nothing less,” Merrell said.