Death of State Penitentiary inmate ruled homicide; convicted murderer was strangled


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This undated photo provided by the South Dakota Department of Corrections shows 37-year-old Kent Davidson. The body of Davidson, a convicted murderer serving a life sentence at the State Penitentiary in Sioux Falls, S.D., was found in his cell a week ago. His death has been ruled a homicide. His death certificate, issued Monday, Sept. 15, 2014, lists asphyxia and strangulation as the causes of death. Officials say Davidson was injured late on Sept. 7 and died early on Sept. 8. (AP Photo/South Dakota Department of Corrections)

PIERRE, South Dakota — The death of an inmate who was serving a life sentence for murder at the State Penitentiary in Sioux Falls has been ruled a homicide, law enforcement officials announced Monday.

Kent Davidson, the 37-year-old inmate whose body was found in his cell last week, died from strangulation and asphyxia, according to his death certificate filed Monday. His injuries were inflicted with a bed sheet.

An investigation is ongoing into Davidson's death, the Attorney General's office said Monday, but no suspects have been publicly identified.

Davidson was injured late on Sept. 7 and died early on Sept. 8, according to his death certificate.

Davidson had a cell mate who was deemed a "low moderate" risk, according to the Department of Corrections. Davidson was assessed as a "moderate" risk.

Davidson pleaded guilty to first-degree murder in April in the death of his girlfriend, 26-year-out Crystal Schulz, who was shot in the head on March 11, 2013.

Her body was found three days later in a shed at her mother's rural Chamberlain residence, and Davidson was arrested hours later after a standoff with police.

Pamela Davidson, Kent Davidson's mother who lives in Jamestown, North Dakota, said she's now lost both of her children. Her younger son, Travis, was killed in a car crash six years ago this month.

She said she hadn't spoken to Davidson in about three years and said the hardest part is she wasn't able to say goodbye. His body was cremated in Sioux Falls before it was sent to North Dakota.

In addition to murder charges, Davidson also was serving a five-year sentence for forgery out of Tripp County and a five-year sentence for second-degree escape out of Minnehaha County.

"You know, to me, he don't deserve whatever happened," she said. "He still deserves our respect. He's still God's son."

Davidson and Schulz were engaged, but court documents show that Schulz was ending the relationship.

"I'm sorry for what he did to the other family. I'm sorry for that, but we're grieving now, too," Pamela Davidson said. "And we were grieving (when Crystal died). It's hard on both sides of the family."

Officials on Monday also issued the death certificate for James McVay, another convicted murder who was found hanging by a sheet in his cell on Sept. 4. It confirmed an earlier Corrections Department statement calling McVay's death a suicide.

McVay, 44, had pleaded guilty but mentally ill to murder in the 2011 stabbing of 75-year-old Maybelle Schein. McVay, who was awaiting capital punishment, said he killed Schein and stole her car as part of a plan to drive to the nation's capital and kill the president. He was arrested in Madison, Wisconsin.

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