TALLAHASSEE, Fla. - A state commission on Wednesday reduced the sentence of a Canadian man whose high-profile murder conviction was scrutinized by former Gov. Rick Scott. Scott, now a U.S. senator, refused several requests that would have allowed William Russell Davies to serve the remainder of his life sentence in Canada.
Davies, now 51, has been behind bars in Florida for more than three decades, though the Canadian government has formally approved his transfer three times, according to supporters.
The last time the Canadian government approved the transfer was in 2016, supporters said, but the request was refused by Scott. When asked in 2017 why Florida did not approve the transfer, Scott said, “In our state, we are very focused on our victims and their families.”
Davies was 18 when he was accused of gunning down an acquaintance in 1986 at Tomoka State Park north of Ormond Beach. Davies was convicted of first-degree murder and is a prisoner at Franklin Correctional Institution, according to the state Department of Corrections website.
While the transfer request continues, the Florida Commission on Offender Review on Wednesday agreed to shave off five years from Davies' sentence as a result of his good behavior.
“He lives with that guilt every day, but Russ has reformed himself. What you are at 18 is so far from what you are at 51. He is now a middle-aged man,” said Ellen Gardner, one of Davies’ friends.
The commission will review Davies’ case again in two years. Gov. Ron DeSantis, who took office last January, has not addressed the case, and his office did not immediately respond to a request for comment Wednesday.