- The Washington Times - Tuesday, August 1, 2000

A 74-year-old man who police say killed his 69-year-old sister because he believed she had put a curse on him returned to court custody yesterday after a weekend of freedom.

District of Columbia Court Commissioner J. Dennis Doyle on Friday freed Robert Davis Jr. for the weekend because of concerns about his age and health conditions. Mr. Davis, who has a clean criminal record, was directed to return to court yesterday for a preliminary hearing on first-degree murder charges.

Yesterday, Superior Court Judge Lee F. Satterfield ordered the retired postal worker into three weeks in the Intensive Supervision Program, which monitors defendants who may be mentally or physically sick.

Assistant U.S. Attorney June Jeffries agreed to the release of Mr. Davis. "It is unusual, yes, but not unheard of," said Channing Phillips, spokesman for the U.S. Attorney's office.

"When the court stressed the absence of such other factors in this case where the defendant is 74 years old with no history of violence or alcohol or drug abuse and long-standing ties to the community the government agreed that the best alternative under these circumstances was to have the defendant placed into the Intensive Supervision Program," Mr. Phillips said.

After three weeks in the program, Mr. Davis apparently will be free again for two weeks and four days before returning to court for a preliminary hearing Sept. 8 on charges of shooting his sister, Lucille Shropshire, a retired rectory cook at St. Francis de Sales Catholic Church, on July 15.

Mr. Davis was arrested Thursday after police found five witnesses who said Mrs. Shropshire feared her brother and had seen a man who looked like Mr. Davis in a shiny, well-kept Cadillac about the time Mrs. Shropshire was shot and killed in her car near her new residence.

Charging documents state that Mr. Davis and Mrs. Shropshire had quarreled before she began moving from her longtime residence in the 1800 block of Harvard Street NW to an apartment in the 2900 block of Newton Street NE.

Mrs. Shropshire had told friends she began receiving "harassing telephone calls." She suspected her brother. Mrs. Shropshire said she was afraid of her brother, witnesses said.

After his arrest, Mr. Davis told investigators he believed he was terminally ill and asked his sister if she was the cause. Charging documents quote Mr. Davis as saying his sister said, "You will die soon."

But Mr. Davis also told investigators he had not seen his sister for three weeks.

Police searching Mr. Davis' residence July 19 found a gray, well-maintained 1998 Cadillac DeVille and bullets, including a box of .38 caliber ammunition like the slugs that killed Mrs. Shropshire. Police have not found a murder weapon.

Two of three witnesses who saw the man in the Cadillac picked the wrong photograph from a display that included Mr. Davis. However, one witness called police the next day, asked to see the display again, and pointed to Mr. Davis' photograph as the man the witness had seen.

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