FARGO — A judge has set bail at $1 million cash only for a man charged with murdering his ex-girlfriend and setting fire to the apartment where her body was found.
Sheldon Davis, 44, made his first appearance on the charges in Cass County District Court by interactive television Tuesday morning, Aug. 6.
Davis is charged with one count of murder, a Class AA felony, and one felony count each of arson and endangering by fire or explosion in the death of Denise Anderson, 52, whose body was found at Davis' apartment on Aug. 1 after a fire was reported in the apartment building at 417 12th St. N., in Fargo.
Davis appeared Tuesday before Judge Tristan Van de Streek, who until recently was a prosecutor with the Cass County State's Attorney's Office.
Prosecutor Renata Selzer requested bail at $2 million, cash only, citing a long list of past convictions for Davis, including a terrorizing conviction in Cass County from 2013.
Selzer said in that case Davis was sentenced to two and a half years with an additional two and a half years stayed on condition Davis follow probation rules.
She told the judge Davis twice violated his probation for violations that included contacting the victim in the case and she said he ultimately had to serve his entire sentence.
Davis began telling the judge, "There's too much that's left out of this case," and he said the news media "is printing a bunch of lies."
When Van de Streek cautioned Davis that it might be best for him to refrain from talking about the case and that the prosecutor was probably writing down everything he said, Davis replied: "I don't give a damn."
Van de Streek set terms of release at $1 million bail, cash only, and set the next court appearance for Davis for Sept. 5 at 1:30 p.m.
Family and friends of Anderson watched the hearing from the courtroom audience.
According to documents filed in Cass County District Court, Anderson died of traumatic injuries suffered before the fire started.
According to the court documents:
Davis went to the house of his friend Lenny Duwayne Wilds II the morning of Thursday, Aug. 1.
Interviewed by police, Wilds said Davis told him he had done "something bad," saying he had started a fire in his apartment by leaving a stove on.
Wilds said Davis had earlier talked about doing this and about killing Anderson because of pending domestic and sex assault allegations she had made against him, according to the court documents.
Wilds recounted to police that Davis asked him if he had ever seen a dead body before. Wilds told Davis he "thought that would be scary," to which Davis allegedly replied, "no, not really."
After catching Davis watching a news story on Facebook live about the fire and hearing that a body had been found inside the apartment, Wilds said he stopped asking questions, for fear that the body was Anderson's and that Davis had killed her.
According to court documents, police who were watching Wilds' home took Davis into custody when he came out.
Under questioning, Davis denied telling Wilds that he started the fire. Rather, Davis told police he left Anderson sleeping in the apartment that morning to visit Wilds because Anderson did not yet know he had lost his job, and he wanted to give her the impression he was going to work.
In an interview with The Forum at the Cass County Jail Friday, Aug. 2, Davis denied knowing anything about the fire or Anderson’s death.
Davis has a long criminal history that includes convictions for assault, false imprisonment, terrorizing and domestic violence. The cases span a number of states, including North Dakota, South Carolina and Georgia.
In the Aug. 2 interview with The Forum, Davis indicated his intention to plead not guilty if he was charged.
The maximum penalty for a conviction on the Class AA murder charge Davis is facing is life in prison without parole.