WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) — A judge has sentenced a Wichita man to life without parole for the capital murder and rape of 36-year-old Letitia Davis.
Davis died eight years ago, in November 2014, after being attacked in Wichita’s Fairmount Park. She was found badly burned and beaten. But, before she died, she was able to tell investigators that she had also been raped.
Police said DNA collected from the victim matched a previous case involving Cornell McNeal. Police arrested him within a week of the crime, but the case stalled while McNeal underwent multiple mental competency evaluations.
A jury found McNeal guilty in July. After the verdict was read, prosecutors said they would not pursue the death penalty. District Attorney Marc Bennett explained that the Davis family did not want to go through the lengthy process of death penalty appeals.
“They just wanted this done, and I totally sympathize … it is gut-wrenching to put families through that,” Bennett said at the time.
He said that the family understood that the capital murder conviction would then revert to life without parole. Bennett said that’s all the family really wanted.
During the sentencing Thursday afternoon, the defense made a motion for a new trial. The judge denied the motion.
After the sentencing, Bennett sent KSN News this comment:
“The sentence today was the culmination of the hard work and dedication of first responders, investigators, witnesses – both professional and civilian — the jury and the court. We are pleased the family of Ms. Davis is finally able to put this chapter behind them.”