Fond of Diamonds
A lifelong affection for diamonds and a disposition to take things that don’t belong to him made John Leslie Davis Sr. a multiconvicted felon. His court records show convictions starting in 1979, when Davis was 21 years old, for the nighttime burglary of a North County shop called Dutch’s Jewelers.
In 1981, he pleaded guilty to one charge of grand theft. Three other charges — burglary, attempted burglary, and attempted robbery — were dropped. He was sentenced to 270 days in jail and probation.
In 1983, Davis accumulated a string of nine burglary charges.
A defense attorney working for Davis in 1983 remarked in court paperwork that the nine counts of burglary were all “burglary of businesses when said businesses were not open for business.”
Davis got 12 years in prison this time. But at the same hearing in which Davis was sentenced, the judge ordered that he should get his diamonds back. The court order reads:
“TO THE CHIEF OF THE OCEANSIDE POLICE DEPARTMENT AND Detective Teotter of the Oceanside police Department: You are hereby ordered to return to the property of Defendant JOHN LESLIE DAVIS the personal property of said defendant taken from defendant or/and vehicle at time of his arrest including but not limited to the following: one (1) ring with three diamonds; one earring with one 35 pts diamond; one diamond (45 pts marquis cut); one diamond (30 pts, oval shape); one chain (gold) with religious medal; one watch with diamond chips for hours.” The order is signed by the Honorable Suzanne Knauf, judge of the superior court.
Holes in Roofs
“He did this exact style of robbery before,” prosecutor Melissa Vasel told the jury in May of this year. The practiced thief has at least four strike priors for separate robbery and burglary convictions in San Diego and Orange counties, the prosecutor said.
In 1993, when Davis was being held in Orange County, Oceanside police detective Chris McDonough drove there to speak with him about cases in San Diego County.
The detective was investigating a series of burglaries and robberies that involved entering through rooftops. The thief also made a habit of leaving behind items — clothing, gloves, and small bags.
When Detective McDonough spoke to the suspect, Davis at first denied his involvement but then admitted complicity.
In a robbery of a Pep Boys, Davis said he had cased the place to see how the alarm system was set up and he’d watched the store in the early morning hours to see what time the manager arrived. He had set off the alarm and waited across the street to see if police came. They did. Davis said he went back the next morning and robbed the place. Inside the store, he confronted the manager with a gun, ordered the man to open the safe, and reached in to grab a bundle of money off the top. Pep Boys suffered a $6500 loss. Davis left his gun and some clothing at the scene of the crime. “He did say that he always did that,” said Detective McDonough. “He said he left a black tote bag behind.”
“He told me he had a background in construction,” McDonough said. The burglar said that he was familiar with the construction of buildings and security systems.
In a similar robbery of a check-cashing business, during which the thief came in through the roof, Davis got away with $13,000 cash, McDonough said.
Then there was the burglary of a gun shop, in which thieves came in through the roof to steal guns over a two-day period. The detective said Davis admitted to scouting the place, learning the security system, and carving a hole in the roof of the gun shop. But Davis told the detective that he did all this at the request of others, who actually stole the guns. Davis claimed he never went inside the gun shop, although he said he gave advice to the thieves. The perps got away with “a lot of guns,” according to McDonough.
In late 1993, Davis was convicted in Orange County of second-degree robbery.
In 2000, Davis pleaded guilty to two counts of robbery in San Diego County and was sentenced to two years in prison.
Davis is now 53 years old. At the close of trial in May, he was found guilty of the armed robbery at Mulloys jewelry store in 2009. He was immediately cuffed and taken into custody.
On June 28, the Honorable Aaron Katz sentenced Davis to 50 years to life.