UKIAH, 12/1/2016 — Steven Ryan, 62, pled not guilty to the murder of De’Shaun Davis, a local 20-year-old black man, this morning, Dec. 1, at his plea hearing at the Mendocino Superior court in Ukiah. Ryan is white. Assistant Public Defender Carly Dolan, who represented Ryan, entered a plea of not guilty to the murder charge on Ryan’s behalf. Davis, who was apparently unarmed, was killed on November 21, shot multiple times with a large caliber gun. Following the shooting Ryan called the police to announce that he had shot Davis, and claimed that he had shot Davis in self-defense. Ryan also waived his right to a preliminary hearing within ten court days, agreeing to a pre-preliminary hearing on December 28 and a preliminary hearing on January 5.
Davis’ great-aunt Troyle Tognoli, who was in the courtroom, expressed satisfaction with the investigation thus far, including the Mendocino County Sheriff's Office, District Attorney David Eyster, who is prosecuting the case, and presiding Judge John Behnke. “I’m ok with not polarizing this into a black-white thing,” she said, though she added that the family is looking at a variety of factors. Davis had a large loving family, with members in California and North Carolina.
Other friends in Ukiah have fondly remembered Davis as a kind and affable young man, with a great love of family. He participated briefly in the Mendocino College football program. A spokesperson at the Ukiah office of the California Conservation Corps confirmed that Davis had been a Corps member. On the day of his death Davis was apparently searching through the dumpster near Ryan’s home, which he rents. In initial reports Ryan claims that the two engaged in a verbal altercation, and it is unclear what happened then.
Judge Behnke asked Ryan if he understood that he had a right to have a preliminary hearing within ten court days of today and that his attorney wants to have the hearing in the first week of January. He then asked if he was willing to waive that right, and if he did waive the right. Ryan, who wore a gray-green jail uniform and whose hands were shackled to his waist, answered, “yes, your Honor,” to all four questions. Dolan declined to comment on the case.
Sarah Reith, 1 December 2016, [email protected]