A man convicted of manslaughter for starting a fire that led his roommate to jump to his death from a second-story window will not be granted parole, the Utah Board of Pardons ruled Friday.
John Bradley Davenport, 45, was sent to the state prison to continue his sentence of up to 15 years. He had been in the state mental hospital since April 1986.Hospital authorities told the Utah Board of Pardons they could do no more for him. Davenport had pleaded guilty but mentally ill to the second-degree felony that occurred in November 1985.
As a result, board members had to choose between paroling Davenport or confining him in the prison. They chose the latter and said they would not consider setting a parole date again until November 1993.
Davenport set the fire after his roommate, a 35-year-old man whose lifestyle was described as transient by the board, made a homosexual advance toward him. He said he did not have that type of relationship with the man.
According to board member Paul Boyden, Davenport doused the stairs of the Avenues apartment building with a flammable liquid, which exploded and burned him when it was lit.
The victim, who was on the second floor, jumped out a window to escape the flames. He struck a post of a chain-link fence, which went through his chest. The man was pronounced dead on arrival at a nearby hospital.
Asked why he committed the crime, Davenport told the board, "I didn't have any money to move out. I was stuck there. I didn't know what to do." He then assured the board that in a similar situation in the future, he would move.
Boyden said that answer indicated Davenport did not realize how serious the crime was. "I realize how serious it is," Davenport answered. Pressed to describe how serious, he said, "It's murder. It's a terrible mistake I made."
Later, when questioned about his feelings toward his victim, Davenport said, "I'm sorry I killed him. He was a nice guy."
Davenport told the board that he was mentally ill and would "react to things" without the proper medication. He said he had not taken his medication the day of the fire.
He said that if paroled, he would attend meetings for alcohol and drug addicts as well as obtain medicine regularly. Board member Gary Webster said that Davenport has been treated for mental illness since October 1966 at a variety of institutions, including the state mental hospital.
Yet, during the treatment, Webster said, Davenport drank and used drugs. That interfered with his treatment.
Going over his criminal record, it was noted that he has been charged with a long list of crimes, ranging from shoplifting to assault to auto theft to threatening the life of the president.
Davenport told the board he believed that he would be better off in either a nursing home or a halfway house. He appeared confused over the recommendation of the state mental hospital that he be incarcerated at the state prison.
Board members agreed with the hospital assessment, citing the serious nature of the crime and Davenport's "non-encouraging prognosis" in their decision.