FARGO — Prosecutors have connected blood found on the shoes of Fargo man to the woman he is accused of killing.
Former North Dakota forensic scientist Stephanie Maier confirmed Monday, March 8, during testimony in Cass County District Court that blood found on Sheldon George Davis' shoes when he was arrested Aug. 1, 2019, is that of 52-year-old Denise Anderson.
The 46-year-old Davis has been charged with murder, arson and endangerment by fire or explosion in connection to Anderson’s death. Anderson died in Davis' apartment in downtown Fargo on July 31, 2019, or Aug. 1, 2019, according to prosecutors.
Prosecutors also presented evidence on a cast-iron skillet found at the apartment Aug. 4, 2019, by the building owner. Forensic scientists did not discuss the skillet on Monday, though they are expected to testify on it as early as Wednesday.
The state plans to argue Davis beat Anderson with the skillet before turning the stove on with the intent of starting his 417 12th St. N. apartment on fire. Firefighters found Anderson’s body on Aug. 1, 2019, as they responded to smoke billowing from the two-story house that was converted into apartments, police confirmed in court.
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The door to Davis’ attic-level apartment locked with a deadbolt, and firefighters had to pry it open to gain access, detectives said in court.
Photos shown Monday in court showed Anderson was found lying in the living room with only a bra on. Her clothes and other items, including her purse, were scattered across the apartment. Investigators found Anderson’s damaged phone on the stove, Fargo Police Detective Mark Voigtschild said.
A receipt for a broken car window dated July 2019 also was found under Anderson’s body.
Anderson told police her vehicle was vandalized in July 2019, and she suspected Davis was the culprit. She claimed Davis stalked her after she reported he physically and sexually assaulted her in June 2019.
Davis was never charged for those allegations. He previously told The Forum he believes someone else murdered Anderson.
Investigators initially didn't know what was used to kill Anderson, Fargo Police Detective Joshua Loos testified on Monday. Voigtschild described the multiple cuts and bruises to her head, as well as broken arm and finger bones, investigators observed on Aug. 1, 2019. He called the injuries severe.
Detectives asked the building owner to contact police if he found an item that could have been a weapon. Several days later, the building owner contacted police about a broken skillet that had a hair attached to it.
Detective Brent Malone also recounted taking photos of Davis' injuries, which prosecutors called defensive wounds from Anderson. Photos showed several small cuts and bruises on his hands, head, leg, foot and back. Police found Anderson's keys and credit cards in Davis' possession while he was in custody.
Jared Gietzen, Davis’ defense attorney from Dickinson, asked Loos to confirm when the scene was released back to the building owner, which was Aug. 1 after investigators finished processing it.
When pressed by Gietzen on whether it was police protocol for a citizen to help with the search for a murder weapon, Loos said no. The defense attorney also questioned how much debris was removed before the skillet was found.
Fargo Police Officer Christian Davis testified Monday how the defendant was taken into custody around 5 p.m. Aug. 1, 2019, by at least 10 officers with their guns drawn. Sheldon Davis appeared surprised but didn’t ask Christian Davis why he was being arrested, the officer testified.
Judge Tristan Van de Streek stopped Grand Forks Deputy State’s Attorney Carmell Mattison from asking the officer if he thought it was odd for a defendant not to question his arrest. When Gietzen asked if it is possible he didn’t hear Sheldon Davis ask that of other officers, Christain Davis said yes.
The officer and defendant are not related.
Gietzen also asked if handcuffs could mark the defendant's wrists. Malone said that was possible if officers incorrectly applied handcuffs, but he thought Sheldon Davis' were placed on correctly.
Grand Forks has taken over prosecution of the case after the Cass County State’s Attorney Office determined it had a conflict of interest.