Antioch girl was whipped, burned, autopsy shows, By Hilary Costa, Contra Costa Times, September 4, 2008

ANTIOCH Jazzmin Davis was continually whipped with belts and electrical cords, burned with irons and severely beaten in the Antioch home where she died Tuesday, an autopsy by the Contra Costa County Coroner's Office has revealed.

The 15-year-old, emaciated and malnourished, suffered severe lacerations and blunt force trauma to her head, and sustained severe injuries on the day of her death, Antioch police Lt. Leonard Orman said at a Thursday news conference.

Despite frequent and loud screaming heard coming from the house, the neighbor said there was no indication of abuse.
"You wouldn't know they were the same people," Orman said, referring to a school portrait taken of Jazzmin during the 2006-07 school year.

The cause of death had yet to be determined Thursday afternoon, but police expected the autopsy, which began at 9:30 a.m., to conclude in the early evening.

Jazzmin Davis' twin brother had also suffered severe beatings, according to a medical examination conducted Thursday at a local hospital, Orman said.

The children's aunt and foster mother, Shemeeka Davis, 37, remains in County Jail in Martinez, where she is being held on suspicion of murder and corporal punishment. The district attorney is expected to file charges today.

Orman said Davis has been cooperative and admitted to beating and whipping the twins. No clear motive has been identified for the abuse.

"She talks about the fact that she does lose control," Orman said.

Davis has been the twins' foster mother since their infancy. Their case was being handled through the San Francisco County Department of Human Services, Orman said. The department's last physical contact with the family at the home was in September 2007, but a formal adoption hearing had been scheduled for last week.

Police said Davis had been receiving a $13,104 annual stipend from San Francisco County for the twins' care; $9,800 annually from Contra Costa County for caring for her elderly mother, who lives in Bay Point; and $1,700 a month from the Contra Costa Housing Authority through the federal Section 8 housing assistance program.

Orman said the twins had been confined to the house and restricted largely to the stark second-story bedroom they shared, but it is still unclear how long they had been kept inside. The bedroom contained a bunk bed, one sheet, an empty closet and a few posters on the walls, Orman said.

The boy reportedly spent much of his time reading in the bedroom, and is extremely bright, Orman said. His demeanor has been stoic, but he is upset about his sister's death, Orman said.

Police said Davis' 7-year-old daughter, also removed from the house, had not been physically abused as was originally reported. The 7-year-old's father had also been living in the house until days before Jazzmin's death, and is cooperating with police.

Shemeeka Davis' older sons, 17 and 18, also lived in the house. Orman said police are still investigating whether they are culpable in the abuse and murder.

Police are looking for Jason Lawon Davis, the biological father of the twins and Shemeeka Davis' brother, Jason Davis, had reportedly been getting supervised visits of his children, Orman said. He is wanted by the state Department of Corrections for a parole violation, authorities said.

Police did not have information about the twins' biological mother or about her contact with her children.

A neighbor of the Davis family, who asked not to be named, said her children played often with the 7-year-old girl and with Jazzmin's twin brother but that Jazzmin was often kept in the house and away from other children.

The neighbor said her daughter had walked home from school with the twins while they attended Antioch Middle School, and had noticed that Jazzmin had a black eye on more than one occasion. Antioch Unified School District Superintendent Deborah Sims said Jazzmin was withdrawn from school by family members last October.

Davis' 7-year-old daughter was extremely shy and reserved, the neighbor said, but never showed signs of physical abuse. Despite frequent and loud screaming heard coming from the house, the neighbor said there was no indication of abuse.

"There was nothing to warrant that up those stairs was another life," she said, referring to the twins' bedroom.

The neighbor said she had not seen Jazzmin for more than a year, and that when she questioned Shemeeka Davis about her whereabouts she was told Jazzmin had been sent to live with other family members.

"We all failed her," she said. "Every one of us failed her."

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