Life sentence for man who murdered girlfriend
Anthony Davis was sentenced to life behind bars for a minimum term of 23 years yesterday for killing his partner Morissa Moniz in a “murderous rage” and inflicting intense suffering on his victim.
Police hailed the sentence as a signal for other victims of domestic violence to come forward and seek justice.
As his victim’s family looked on, Puisne Judge Shade Subair Williams told Davis: “You have not yet become a 40-year-old man, and in your life you have committed acts where your legacy is that you have severely hurt the two people you may claim to have loved the most in this life.”
She was referring to Davis’s previous community-based sentence for inflicting actual bodily harm on his infant son.
The court heard on Monday that Davis was handed a two-year suspended sentence in 2018 after he dropped his son out of a two-storey window.
Cindy Clarke, the Director of Public Prosecutions, told the court during that hearing that the murder of Ms Moniz happened 18 months after Davis’s suspended sentence came to an end.
Ms Clarke said that Davis should serve a life sentence for the murder, explaining that it was appropriate for a crime of this level of “moral outrage”.
But Elizabeth Christopher, for the defence, said that many defendants in cases of a similar nature received 23 years instead of a life sentence.
She cited an example in case law where a man was convicted of stabbing his partner to death and was jailed for 23 years.
Ms Christopher added that her client displayed remorse for his actions when he “took the knife to himself” before police came and “certainly did not try to leave the scene”.
She said that alcohol had been an aggravating factor in her client’s behaviour.
She told the court that the pair had a “mutually toxic and violent” relationship, although she added that this did not excuse his actions.
This afternoon, Mrs Justice Subair Williams told the Supreme Court that Davis and his 28-year-old victim had shared an “abusive, violent and toxic” relationship.
She said Ms Moniz had been about to leave her abuser when he attacked and fatally stabbed her at the home they shared.
The court heard: “You caused your child to be thrown from a window – and you have killed the woman who you profess to have been your soulmate.
“On that note, Ms Moniz was not your soulmate. She was a woman who wanted to leave you to be with another man and you could not handle that.
“She does not leave this world as your soulmate. She leaves this world as a woman that you killed because you could not handle that she wanted to move on from you.
“That’s your reality.”
Mrs Justice Subair Williams, reading from her written judgment, said Davis and his victim had cohabited for two to three years.
She said: “Her name was Morissa Moniz, daughter of Morris Moniz and Patty Moniz.
“It is evident to this court not only from the victim impact report before me but by their visible presence through these proceedings that their torment is so cutting that no lawful sentence can bring them any real or long-lasting relief.
“They have lost their daughter who they will never have the joy of seeing accomplished, married or with child.”
She said the parents’ grief and pain was shared by Ms Moniz’s younger sister, Brittney, her grandmother, and her paternal aunt, Regina Smith, who had shared the family’s “daily agony” left by Davis’s crime.
The family “wept, wailed, bawled and howled around the proceedings of this court”, Mrs Justice Subair Williams said.
She called it “gut-wrenching not only for them but for those who had to witness it and remain professional”.
The judge also addressed the “suffering of the young man who had hope of Morissa leaving the accused in the hope that Morissa would become his girlfriend” – and the “shame and pain” Davis had inflicted on his family, including a child who would grow up without a father but who would one day “learn of his monstrosity”.
Mrs Justice Subair Williams said the role of the court was not to “enact an emotionally driven sentence”.
The Crown had called for a life sentence, with a minimum of 23 to 30 years behind bars before Davis becomes eligible for parole.
The defence had argued his time in jail should not exceed 21 years.
Mrs Justice Subair Williams said: “The accused, who is 39 now, was 37 when he killed Ms Moniz.”
The “vicious and ferocious” attack claimed her life on November 11, 2021, with Davis pleading guilty on February 22 this year.
Davis was “overcome by jealous rage and killed the deceased to ensure no other man would have her”.
An aggravating factor was Davis arming himself with two knives before chasing the victim through the home and stabbing her.
Mrs Justice Subair Williams continued: “This court must send a clear message of deterrence against domestic violence against woman.”
The only mitigating factors were Davis’s guilty plea and his “expressions of remorse”.
The family of Ms Moniz, many in tears, declined to comment after Davis was sentenced and led from the court.
Outside, Detective Inspector Jason Smith of the Bermuda Police Service said the sentence given had been just, in light of the “horrific crime committed”.
“This case has impacted so many lives – not just her family, but those of us in the BPS charged with investigating it.”
He added: “We just want to say to those members of the community that are suffering from domestic violence – it’s time to speak out so that justice can be served.”
Mr Smith said: “We continue to offer our prayers and support to her family.”
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