Three days after Yamisha Thomas was reported missing, a Columbus police detective testified that Sylvester Davis had a puffy mark on his left eye.
Photos of Davis’ face were introduced as evidence Wednesday in Russell County Circuit Court, where he is facing a murder charge this week in the death of his ex-girlfriend. Thomas’ body was found in a shallow grave on May 23, 2011, in a wooded lot off Third Street South in Phenix City, a month after the 30-year-old Columbus woman went missing on April 22.
Patrick Knight, a veteran Columbus police detective in the Special Victims Unit, was assigned to work the missing person case. Police searched an open field off South Lumpkin Road and contacted the jail before talking to Davis, 31, on April 25, Knight said.
“He had a puffy mark on the left eye,” Knight told prosecutor Max Smith.
Attorney Walter Gray, who is representing Davis, questioned the mark in the photo. “I don’t see what you are talking about,” Gray said to Knight.
In Davis’ interview with police, Gray noted his client gave police other information to look for evidence in the case. Davis’ Hummer was brought to the department, but it yielded no evidence.
As part of the investigation, Detective Thomas Pell of the Phenix City Police Department was sent to 1533 Summerplace Drive to look for evidence at the rental home where the couple lived before splitting. Pell said the house appeared to be cleaned and the walls were repainted. There was no blood on the carpet or the walls.
Pell said what appeared to be blood was on a light bulb in the bedroom. The light bulb and a swab of the light fixture were sent to the crime lab for tests. The substance on the bulb was blood but it couldn’t be identified.
“I couldn’t tell you how long it had been there,” Pell said of the blood.
Other than the blood found, Pell said there was nothing to indicate it was a crime scene.
When Thomas’ body was found in the shallow grave, Detective Patrick Keith of the Phenix City Police Department said 400 to 500 people showed up at the scene. He kept the onlookers from entering the area that was sealed off while the remains were removed.
On June 1, Keith said he went to a detail shop where Davis worked on Fifth Street South. The business is located less than a half mile from where the body was found.
Gray questioned Keith on whether he found any concrete or digging tools at the detail shop. The officer said none were found.
Tamara Morris, a close friend of Thomas since the sixth grade, recalled an incident with the couple at a club off Macon Road in September 2009. Morris said she and Thomas went to the club and Davis was there. As the two left, Thomas had remotely opened the doors to her red 2006 Chevy Avalanche when Davis reached inside and took her cell phone.
“She was yelling for him to give her phone back,” Morris said.
Thomas called police to make a report.
“He didn’t return the phone,” Morris said.
The trial, which started Monday, resumes in Judge Albert Johnson’s courtroom at 8:50 a.m. today.