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Cecil Emile DAVIS






A.K.A.: "K. C."
Classification: Murderer
Characteristics: Rape - Robbery
Number of victims: 1 +
Date of murder: January 24, 1997
Date of arrest: 6 days after
Date of birth: September 1, 1959
Victim profile: Yoshiko Couch, 65
Method of murder: Suffocation/asphyxiation with a poisonous substance
Location: Pierce County, Washington, USA
Status: Sentenced to death on February 23, 1998

Cecil Emile Davis convicted February 6, 1998 of one count of aggravated first degree murder for the suffocation/asphyxiation murder of Yoshiko Couch, 65, with a poisonous substance after burglarizing her home, robbing and then raping her January 25, 1997 in Pierce County.


State of Washington v. Cecil Emile Davis

Statement of Facts

On January 25, 1997, the body of sixty-five-year-old Ms. Yoshiko Couch was discovered in the upstairs bathtub of her home in Tacoma, Washington. Her body was found lying on its back, with the legs apart, submerged in bloody water approximately five to six inches deep. In the bathtub were biological tissue (blood clot), fecal matter, and Ms. Couch's undergarment. Wet towels and clothing were piled on top of the head and chest areas emitting a strong chemical odor. The body was not clothed from the waist down. A gold wedding band Ms. Couch wore on her left ring finger was missing.

The events surrounding Ms. Couch's death began the night before on January 24, 1997.  That night there was a gathering of people at the house Appellant Davis lived in which was owned by his mother, Ms. Cozetta L. Taylor, located at 2012 East 57th Street in Tacoma, Washington. It was across the street and one house over from Ms. Couch's residence at 2007 East 57th Street.

At approximately 2:30 o'clock the morning of January 25, 1997, Appellant, Co-defendant George Anthony Wilson, and Keith D. Burks, Appellant's seventeen-year-old friend and a recent acquaintance of Mr. Wilson, were smoking cigarettes on the porch of Ms. Taylor's house.

Appellant was wearing brown suede gloves at the time. In the presence of Mr. Wilson and Mr. Burks, Appellant said 'I need to rob somebody,' as he looked in the direction of Ms. Couch's residence across the street. Then Ms. Lisa R. Taylor, Appellant's sister, came outside and told the men to come inside because she was locking the house for the night. Shortly after that Appellant said 'I need to kill me a motherfucker.' Mr. Burks went back inside the house, while Appellant and Mr. Wilson remained outside.

About five or six minutes later, Mr. Wilson came to the sliding glass door at the back of the house appearing wide-eyed and scared. Mr. Burks unlocked the door and let him in. According to Mr. Burks, Mr. Wilson told him he and Appellant 'went over there to rip the lady off, but {Appellant} just kicked in the door and started beating on her and rubbing {her} all over.' 

Mr. Wilson told Mr. Burks the woman was coming down the stairs, and that Appellant rubbed her breasts.  He identified Ms. Couch as 'the old woman across the street.'  He also told Mr. Burks that as soon as he realized what Appellant was doing to the woman, he left the Couch residence. Mr. Burks went to sleep after listening to Mr. Wilson's statements. At a later date, Mr. Burks made two statements to police authorities.

Later that morning, at approximately 11:00 o'clock, Jack A. Schauf and his wife, Ms. Asako Schauf, arrived at the Couch residence. They were scheduled to pick Ms. Couch up to attend a dance recital.  Ordinarily she would be ready and waiting for them whenever they gave her a ride.  But on that day she was not waiting for them.

The front door opened inward as Ms. Schauf knocked on it. There was no damage to the front screen door.  Mr. Schauf entered the Couch residence with his wife.  The Schaufs noticed wood chips and a striker plate from the doorsill on the floor.  They went upstairs and took a cursory look around.   Ms. Schauf, followed by her husband, proceeded to check on the physically disabled Richard Couch, husband of Ms. Couch, whose bedroom was located downstairs.  Mr. Schauf then went back upstairs and looked into a bedroom and the living room and noticed a white-powdery substance scattered around.  Upon entering the bathroom adjacent to the kitchen, he found the body of Ms. Couch in the bathtub. Mr. Schauf felt Ms. Couch's stomach and concluded she was dead.

At the time of the incident, Mr. Couch had a heart condition and was disabled from several strokes. The left side of his body was paralyzed. He was only able to walk a few steps with assistance and was not able to walk up the stairs. He also took prescribed medication to help him sleep.  He was not aware of what happened in his home that morning.  When Mr. Schauf went to use the telephone in Mr. Couch's bedroom to call 911, he found the telephone, normally on a table next to the bed, in a closet three to four feet away from the bed.  Mr. Couch was not informed of his wife's death until after members of the Tacoma Fire Department Paramedic Unit arrived and confirmed she was dead.

Richard Couch was retired from the United States Army.  His wife was a homemaker and his primary caregiver. She did all the household shopping and purchased groceries at military commissaries in Pierce County. She had recently purchased Kool Mild cigarettes and cans of Pepsi Cola for her husband, and small packages of meat and poultry, enough to feed two people.

At the time of the incident, there were cans of Budweiser Light beer in the home. Ms. Couch always had cash on her person, either in the inside pocket of her purse or in an envelope. The Couches kept to themselves and had no African American friends who visited their home.

Tacoma Police Department forensic specialist Ms. Toni Wentland collected some hairs, fibers, and suspected blood from Ms. Couch's mattress and bedcovers. Forensic specialist Eric Berg gathered several pieces of evidence at the crime scene which included a utility box housing the telephone and television cables located on the outer left front corner of the Couch residence--cut marks on the telephone cable indicating an attempt to cut the telephone line; a completely severed television cable; a container of Comet cleanser recovered from the east bedroom; a white powdery substance, believed to be Comet cleanser, scattered mainly throughout the upstairs area of the house; a damp sponge with a gritty white powdery residue found on the railing at the top of the stairs; a similar white powdery residue found on Ms. Couch's body below the waist; Ms. Couch's open purse, with no money in it, on the hallway floor outside the doorway to the southeast bedroom; and a sleeping bag with a large amount of biological tissue (blood clot) recovered from the bed in the southeast bedroom.

Forensic specialist Eric Berg did a thorough forensic investigation of the upstairs bathroom where Ms. Couch's body was found.  He observed a glove print on the bathroom mirror.  In his opinion it was left by a leather glove. No fingerprints were recovered.  Mr. Berg noticed a very strong chemical odor in the bathroom and determined the odor was consistent with the household cleanser 'Goof-Off.'  A can of 'Goof-Off' was found on the bathroom floor at the base of the bathtub.  A plastic container with a scouring pad was also found there. The body of Ms. Couch was photographed as it was found in the bathtub. The entire crime scene, including the body, was photographed and videotaped before any evidence was collected.

On January 27, 1997, Pierce County Associate Medical Examiner Roberto Ramoso, M.D. performed an autopsy on Ms. Yoshiko Couch. Dr. Ramoso concluded the cause of her death was asphyxia by suffocation and neck compression and also xylene toxicity.  He estimated the time of death at approximately 3:00 o'clock the morning of January 25, 1997.

Medical Examiner Ramoso observed bruising around Ms. Couch's eye area and hemorrhaging beneath her upper lip, indicating trauma caused by a blunt impact or pressure on her face. He also observed redness and blistering around her chin, neck, and upper torso areas. Portions of her face and hands showed deformation of the skin and changes in the structure of the tissue underneath the skin. Those symptoms were consistent with skin coming in contact with the chemical xylene.

In addition, a whitish dried secretion found on the inside of her nostrils was consistent with inhalation of xylene through the nose with some xylene going into the nostrils. Dr. Ramoso noted a strong odor emanating from the towels and clothing which accompanied Ms. Couch's body to the morgue. He drew blood samples from the body for a toxicologist to analyze and examine for the presence of xylene.

Also observed by Dr. Ramoso was evidence of trauma to Ms. Couch's vagina. The trauma consisted of a laceration wound, approximately one and three-quarters of an inch long, caused by a hard object, not a penis, penetrating the vaginal wall. The blood flow from the laceration indicated it was caused before Ms. Couch died. Dr. Ramoso testified the large amount of blood from such a vaginal laceration is consistent with the amount of blood found on the sleeping bag in the southeast bedroom.

The Washington State Toxicology Laboratory analyzed the blood and pubic hair and head hair samples taken during the autopsy of Ms. Couch. The analysis revealed her blood contained 21.2 milligrams per liter of xylene. Medical literature indicates that fatalities due to xylene exposure occur with concentrations of the substance between 3 to 40 milligrams per liter. Death occurs in minutes if xylene is inhaled by a person from a cloth held in front of the face. Xylene is the active ingredient in the household cleanser 'Goof-Off.' In Dr. Ramoso's opinion, the xylene in Ms. Couch's blood was most likely introduced by inhalation and skin absorption.

The Washington State Patrol (WSP) Crime Laboratory examined the hairs recovered from the crime scene and determined certain hairs had 'Negroid' characteristics. The samples with Negroid characteristics were items B-6, B-7 and A-11.  Appellant and George Anthony Wilson are African American.  Control samples of pubic and head hairs from Ms. Couch, Appellant and Mr. Wilson were compared with the hairs recovered from the Couch residence.

Hair sample item B-6, recovered from a bedspread found in the east bedroom, was inconclusive when compared to the hair samples provided by Appellant and Mr. Wilson.  Hair sample item B-7, taken from the bedspread in the southeast bedroom, contained one hair that was microscopically similar to Appellant's head hair sample; he could be considered a possible source of that hair. One hair from hair sample item A-11 was determined to be microscopically similar to Appellant's pubic hair sample. While Appellant's hair samples did not specifically identify him as the source of the hairs recovered from the Couch residence, his hair samples could not be eliminated as a source.  Mr. Wilson's hair samples were microscopically dissimilar.

The WSP Crime Laboratory also examined a pair of Appellant's black tennis shoes. Calcium carbonate with a trace amount of copper were found on the shoes. Those chemicals are commonly found in Comet cleanser. Bloodstains were also found on Appellant's left tennis shoe. His shoes were sent to the Genelex Laboratory for DNA (deoxyribonucleic acid) testing, along with blood samples taken from Appellant and Ms. Couch. The laboratory determined the blood found on the shoe was not Appellant's, but was consistent with Ms. Couch's DNA; 1 in 625 persons of Japanese/Asian descent would share this DNA type.

On January 29, 1997, police officers executed a search warrant at Appellant's residence.  They recovered several items, including a carton of Kool Mild cigarettes and a package of meat from the freezer in his home with a label which read '$2.60 pork ham slice fresh' and a date of December 11, 1996.  The Kool cigarette carton did not have a tax stamp, which is consistent with such items sold at the Fort Lewis Commissary.  The meat item was packaged and price-marked by the Fort Lewis Commissary.

Appellant was not employed at the time of the incident. His mother, Ms. Cozetta Taylor, and his sister, Ms. Lisa Taylor, did the shopping for their household. They usually purchased large packages of meat, enough to feed at least ten children and three adults.  They purchased soda drinks in liter bottles, and not in cans, for the gathering on January 24, 1997.  Bottles of Olde English beer were also served at the gathering. No one in the family had military commissary privileges or smoked Kool Mild cigarettes.

Police officers searched a garbage bag located downstairs next to the sliding glass door leading out to the patio area at the back of Appellant's residence. The trash bag contained cigarette butts, a can of Pepsi Cola, a can of Coca-Cola, glass bottles of Olde English beer, cans of Budweiser Light beer and its carton, and Kool Mild cigarette butts, packs and carton. Two latent fingerprints were recovered from the garbage.  One fingerprint was taken from an empty Budweiser Light beer carton and matched Appellant's left ring finger. The second fingerprint, lifted from an empty Kool Mild cigarette carton, matched Ms. Couch's left thumb.

In the early morning hours of January 25, 1997, Ms. Jessica Cunningham, Appellant's fourteen-year-old niece, was asleep at Appellant's residence. However, between 3:30 to 4:00 a.m. she awoke and attempted to locate Appellant. Mr. Wilson and Mr. Burks were in the house, but she could not find Appellant.

Later that morning, Appellant was in the kitchen looking out the window at the police investigation across the street. Police officers were talking to one of his neighbors and Appellant observed the neighbor point toward Appellant's residence. Appellant remarked, in the presence of his sister, Ms. Lisa Taylor, 'that bitch is next.'

Later that day, police officers visited Appellant's residence. He answered the door, did not speak to them and left the house. Appellant returned after the officers left and asked his mother for some Comet cleanser because he wanted to do some cleaning. Appellant obtained a different type of cleaning product and cleaned the downstairs area of the house he lived in. He threw some items into a trash bag in the back yard. He also at least twice washed the clothing he wore on the night of January 24, 1997.

That same day, January 25, 1997, Appellant offered to sell a gold wedding band to his mother for ten dollars. She declined and returned it to him. Ms. Lisa Hubley, his niece, observed him wearing a gold wedding band on his 'pinky' finger. Appellant was also observed to have in his possession cash, Kool Mild cigarettes, and cans of Coca-Cola, Pepsi Cola, and Budweiser Light beer.  He cooked chicken from a package without a store brand-name on it. None of these items had been observed in his possession the day before on January 24, 1997.

A few days after the incident, Appellant told Ms. Kyllo A. Cunningham, his niece, that Ms. Couch was found with towels over her head. That information had not at that time been publicly released by the police.

After the incident, Asil Hubley, Appellant's sixteen-year-old nephew, spoke with Mr. Wilson, whom he considered a close friend, on three occasions regarding the extent of Mr. Wilson's involvement in the incident.  On one occasion, Mr. Wilson told Mr. Hubley he had been inside the upstairs bathroom of the Couch residence. On another occasion, Mr.
Wilson told Mr. Hubley he stayed on the couch in the house and heard noises coming from the bedroom. On a third occasion, Mr. Wilson told Mr. Hubley he did not go into the Couch home. The second and third statements were made after Mr. Wilson learned the police wanted to talk to him about the incident.

On January 28, 1997, Appellant was arrested and held in the Pierce County Jail. While in custody in early February, he had a conversation with another prisoner, Shelbey B. Johnson. Appellant asked Mr. Johnson if he could read his newspaper. He told Mr. Johnson he had heard 'that the newspaper's saying that {Appellant} raped the old bitch, quote, that I may have killed her, but I didn't rape her.'  Appellant said he would file a
lawsuit against the newspaper if it falsely stated he raped the woman.

Appellant on February 3, 1997 was charged by information in the Pierce County Superior Court with aggravated murder in the first degree and, in the alternative, murder in the first degree. The aggravated circumstances included the allegation that the murder was committed in the course of the crime of robbery in the first or second degree, and/or rape in the first or second degree, and/or burglary in the first or second degree or residential burglary.  

A notice of intent to seek the death penalty was timely filed on June 10, 1997. The information also charged Co-defendant George Anthony Wilson with murder in the first degree. The case was pre-assigned to the Honorable Terry D. Sebring on February 11, 1997. Pretrial motions were heard before Judge Sebring beginning on June 24, 1997.

The trial of Appellant and Co-defendant Wilson before Judge Sebring began on November 3, 1997. Judge Sebring became ill during voir dire examination of the jury.   Appellant objected to his replacement by another judge. On November 12, 1997, the Honorable Frederick B. Hayes granted a mistrial under Criminal Rule (CrR) 6.11(a).

A new trial began with jury selection on January 5, 1998 before the Honorable Frederick W. Fleming.

Testimony in the guilt phase began on January 22, 1998.  On February 6, 1998, the jury returned a verdict of 'guilty' of premeditated murder in the first degree with the aggravating circumstances of rape, robbery and burglary, and felony murder in the first degree. On February 9, 1998, Appellant moved to strike the special sentencing proceeding, or in the alternative for a mistrial, alleging inconsistent verdicts.  The trial court denied both motions.

The penalty phase of the trial began on February 10, 1998.  On February 12, 1998 the jury returned a verdict finding there were not sufficient mitigating circumstances to merit leniency.  The trial court on February 23, 1998 sentenced Appellant to be punished by death.


Cecil Emile Davis

Hello my potential Pen–Friend,

“How goes”? You don’t know me. So allow me to introduce my self. My name is Cecil Emile Davis.

Please be patient with me this is my first time writing about me and it’s scary yet fun. Ok, well here it goes:

I am also known as K.C. please feel free to call me K.C. Here is a brief description of myself. I was born and raised in Kansas and Missouri. I’m 44 years of age and my Birthday is on September 1st, 1959. I am 6 feet tall and I weigh 220 pounds. I sport a short fader haircut.

I am on death row since six years.

I am a brown-eyed African American and I am ready to smile for everyone. I am honest, trustworthy and fun to be with and to talk to. In my spare time I enjoy bodybuilding, writing poems and reading. I love listening to music especially Jazz and R&B. I am a hard worker. By trade I am a carpenter. I enjoy working with and training animals of all kinds. I also enjoy riding horses and playing pool, dominos, checkers, chess and any kind of poker. I love children and I have six of my own, four adult sons and two preteen girls, for which I am a very proud father of. I have spent ten years in Military from September 1st, 1976 to May 1st, 1986.

My greatest strengths are my ambition, my optimism, and my persistence in passion for life.

Well what do you think? I hope you enjoy my 1st introduction as well as I enjoy writing it for your information. (It was my pleasure). If you are interested please reply with a photo of yourself as soon as you can. If you decide to send me a photo you must remember to write my name and number on the back of the photo Cecil Emile Davis D.O.C. #920371 or the picture will be rejected before I received it.

I am a very proud man, so it is not easy for me to ask for some postage-help. It is up to you if you could do me that favor or not. No problem if not, just the circumstances make me speak of it.

My soon to be pen friend I am looking forward to an everlasting correspondence relationship with you.

Shalom & peace 


Cecil Davis
# 920371
Washington State Penitentiary
1313 North 13th Avenue
Walla Walla, WA 99362



MO: Rape-slayer of elderly women in their homes.

DISPOSITION: Condemned on one count, 1998.


Cecil Emile Davis on deathrow.



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