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Richard Davis appeals 2006 murder conviction before Missouri Supreme Court

Missouri Department of Corrections

A Missouri death row inmate is seeking to have one of his murder convictions tossed out.

Richard Davis was sentenced to death after being found guilty of the 2006 murder, kidnapping and rape of Marsha Spicer of Independence, which he committed along with his then-girlfriend Dena Riley. Riley was sentenced to life without parole in exchange for pleading guilty.

In arguments before the state Supreme Court this week, Attorney Kent Denzel said his client's former lawyers failed to present evidence or testimony of Davis's mental illness and that he should have been found incompetent to stand trial.

"Being bipolar, the drugs (Davis took) unmasked an underlying condition that was this rapid cycling that led to periods of persistently elevated or irritable mood, associated symptoms of manic episodes, decreased sleep, feeling grandiose, hyper talkative, et cetera, et cetera," Denzel told the high court.

Richard Starnes, arguing for the state, disagreed.

"Counsel did everything that is expected of them in capital litigation," Starnes said. "Counsel worked with an incredibly difficult client to communicate with, not because he was bipolar – the court rejected that – (but because) he didn't want to (communicate). (Davis) was manipulative and controlling."

Davis and Riley also pleaded guilty to the 2006 kidnapping, rape, and murder of Michelle Huff-Ricci of Kansas City, and for that crime they were each sentenced to life without parole.

The couple videotaped themselves sexually assaulting and killing both women, which prosecutors said were made to fulfill Davis's "violent sexual fantasies." The recordings served as key evidence in his conviction.

The Missouri Supreme Court took no action during Wednesday's appeal hearing, but will issue a ruling at a later date.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Follow Marshall Griffin on Twitter:  @MarshallGReport

Marshal was a political reporter for St. Louis Public Radio until 2018.