PHOENIX — Interim Maricopa County Attorney Rachel Mitchell on Tuesday announced her office filed a notice of intent to seek the death penalty against two suspects if they are convicted of murdering an 11-year-old boy at a Scottsdale hotel earlier this year.
Stephanie Marie Davis, 52, and her husband Thomas James Desharnais, 33, are facing 11 felony counts, including first-degree murder, child abuse and tampering with evidence, from the January incident.
Davis and Desharnais were arrested after the child was found unconscious in a bathtub in a room at the Extended Stay America in Old Town. The boy was later pronounced dead at a hospital.
First responders, upon arrival, said they removed a half a liter of water from the child’s body when trying to save his life.
Davis, who called 911, told police that the child had been “hurting himself” all day, a claim disputed by Desharnais in a post-arrest interview, according to police.
Desharnais told investigators that Davis had become increasingly physically and mentally abusive to two children over the past 2-3 months, court documents say.
Desharnais said he witnessed Davis strike the 11-year-old and another child, a 9-year-old, with various items on multiple occasions, causing bleeding and bruising.
An examination of the children revealed multiple lacerations, cuts, abrasions and bruises over their bodies, court documents say.