FARGO ― A Fargo man is denying allegations he killed his then-girlfriend because she filed a rape report against him in the weeks leading up to her death.
Sheldon George Davis, 45, said in a jailhouse interview this week with The Forum that he did not sexually assault 52-year-old Denise Anderson on June 30 at her apartment before her body was found Aug. 1 at Davis’ apartment, 417 12th St. N., while firefighters were responding to a blaze there.
Anderson completed a rape kit and filed other police reports in the weeks leading up to her death, including one that alleged Davis vandalized her vehicle and was stalking her.
Prosecutors want to use the police reports, as well as statements reportedly made by Davis before Anderson’s death, to establish a motive that he allegedly killed her to prevent her from testifying about the rape report.
“It’s pretty low down for the prosecution to go down that route,” Davis told The Forum.
- 'Everybody’s safer': Son of murdered Fargo woman relieved bail set at $1M
- Murder victim's family, friends say domestic abuse has to end
- Fargo police dial in on evidence in murder-arson case
Davis has pleaded not guilty to the charges. A motion hearing to decide on whether the evidence should be allowed is scheduled for Friday, April 13.
He is being held at the Cass County Jail on a Class AA felony of murder and two Class B felonies: arson and endangering by fire or explosion.
Defense attorney David Ogren filed a response on March 19 that opposes using the statements and police report in trial. He called that evidence irrelevant to the case, adding it is “not needed to understand this incident.”
Allowing the statements and police report into trial would “muddy the facts of this case and create an unfair prejudice against Mr. Davis,” Ogren said in his brief.
Davis said he believes a jury would not believe statements made by witnesses about him, including that he wanted to buy a gun, he didn’t want to go to jail for allegedly raping Anderson and he would kill her. He also said Anderson was trying to resolve or withdraw the rape report.
The Fargo Police Department could not confirm whether that is true because the case is still pending.
Friends of Anderson told The Forum she and Davis broke up, but he insisted they were still dating at the time of her death. Just because he was the last person to see her doesn't make him guilty, he said.
“I had no interest in hurting her,” Davis said. “I”m not a violent person.”
Ogren did not immediately return a message left by The Forum.
Davis said there is “no real evidence” against him, and he doesn’t understand why prosecutors are focusing on him. He also said he had other opportunities to kill Anderson but didn’t, including when he went on trips with her to Detroit Lakes and “out in the middle of nowhere.”
“If I was going to kill her, I wouldn’t do it at my house,” he said. “They gotta have someone to blame. … So let’s blame Sheldon.”
Prosecutor Renata Olafson Selzer said she could not speak to the specifics of the case but noted there is enough evidence to pursue charges.
“We wouldn’t be where we are if we didn’t,” she said, adding that evidence to establish motive is relevant.
Davis is innocent until proven guilty and has a right to a trial, Olafson Selzer said. The prosecution believes it has the right person and there is probable cause to believe he committed the crime, she added.
“It will be up to a jury to decide whether there’s guilt beyond a reasonable doubt,” she said.