Chatham County death investigation ruled homicide by coroner, no murder charges filed

Published: Aug. 17, 2023 at 9:14 AM EDT
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SAVANNAH, Ga. (WTOC) - On July 1, Kayla Davis, a 21-year-old woman, went to the corner store in her neighborhood and never came home.

Initial reports suggested that Davis had been stabbed, but now we’re learning that she died of a gunshot wound. Even though we know she was shot, the Chatham County Police Department has only referred to this as a death investigation. WTOC hasn’t been able to get confirmation from them if things were ever upgraded to a homicide investigation after autopsy results came back.

Kayla Davis’ family says that the whole situation has caused them agony and they need to see someone held responsible.

Fatima Davis says that she knew in her gut that her daughter had died, as soon as Chatham County Police came to her door on July 1. Kayla had been gone for longer than normal, after making a trip to the corner store.

“That feeling, I can’t describe that feeling that I had. The hurt, the pain, the loss, the sadness,” says Fatima Davis.

The initial police report from July 1 states CCPD first responded to the backyard of a home on Bismark Avenue after reports of a stabbing. Davis’ mother says CCPD officers told her originally that her daughter had died after being stabbed.

However, according to the Chatham County Coroner’s office, Davis died of a gunshot wound to the torso, and the cause of death was also ruled a homicide. The initial police report shows CCPD officers did hear reports of a gunshot that day.

The report says that a witness “..was woken up by a ‘gunshot’ outside of the residence near the backyard. He went out to the backyard and observed the victim lying on the ground.”

Police also interviewed a woman who says that she “observed the victim lying on the ground and foaming at the mouth.” She told police that she was the only one home.

Court records show that on July 6th- the woman’s son, 17-year-old Javonte Ward, was arrested and charged with tampering with evidence in connection to the case.

He’s being held at the Chatham County Detention Center after being denied bond. He’s due back in court on August 30th.

Davis’s mother says that the tampering with evidence charge is not enough.. and that she wants to see someone charged with murder.

“You have to put your finger on the trigger for a gun to go off. If you drop a gun, it won’t go off. But they’re trying to spin it as if it was an accident,” says Fatima Davis.

WTOC repeatedly reached out to the Chatham County Police Department and asked if this case was being investigated as a homicide, whether Ward is a murder suspect, and whether there are other suspects in the case. They declined to answer our questions, but did give us the following statement:

“The Chatham County Police Department has conducted a thorough investigation into the circumstances surrounding Kayla Davis’ death on July 1, 2023. All of our evidence and investigative files have been turned over to the Chatham County District Attorney’s Office for review, and for that office to determine the next course of action in the case.”

WTOC also reached out to the Chatham County District Attorney’s Office, but didn’t hear back in time for this story. We will update the story when we hear back.

Getting justice for Kayla

Kayla Davis’ family say that they are devastated by Kayla’s death, and what makes it more heartbreaking is that they believe she was in a good spot in life.

Davis’ mother tells WTOC that at the time of her death, Kayla had recently started a job working with the City of Savannah’s sanitation department that she loved- and her family was very proud of her for it.

Davis’s mother also remembers her as someone that always saw the good in people.

Fatima Davis says that on August 26th, she’s putting together a peaceful march for justice for her daughter.

“I also called on the mothers of murdered children, as well as children of murdered parents, because all of us can stand together. Everyone can remember our loved ones, and if they haven’t gotten justice, scream for justice for our loved ones,” says Fatima Davis.

Davis says the march will take place on August 26th, and that it’ll begin on the corner of MLK and Bay Street.