Roy Exum: Who Is To Judge?

Monday, April 20, 2009 - by Roy Exum
Roy Exum
Roy Exum

The lead story of The Dallas Morning News on Sunday was about a man named Maury Davis, who is today the pastor of a huge megachurch in Nashville. Cornerstone Church, which is actually in nearby Madison, has over 6,000 members and another 125,000 who watch on TV every Sunday.

Each sermon can be seen across the sprawling grounds on Jumbo-tron TVs and even an orchestra plays. There is also a massive outreach program that includes running and motorcycle clubs.

But the story wasn’t about the meteoric rise of this Southern evangelist. It focused far more on the fact the same Maury Davis, on Jan. 27, 1975, brutally killed a woman named Jo Ella Liles in cold blood. Mrs. Liles was showing an empty house to Davis and a friend – both reportedly hyped on drugs - when Davis “snapped,” stabbing the kind and gentle lady before viciously slashing her throat.

Since the murder, Davis has become something of a Christian “superstar.” He got out of prison after just eight years, this due to over-crowding, and today he has been married for 23 years, has four children, and what a church spokesman says “is an ample salary on par with his peers.”

Rev. Davis also has his own website where, for just $199.99, you can download all of his sermons. The cost is usually $299.99 so the lesser amount is “for a limited time only.” His website is different from the church’s, but there are links to one another.

That known, it was the only son of his victim who, in yesterday’s paper, called Maury Davis “Satan’s angel.” “I’m seeing somebody who had great success at my expense, at my mother’s expense,” Ron Liles told the Dallas reporter, Diane Jennings. “How can you not feel a little hostile?”

Both the stories of Davis’ fall and of his redemption are fascinating. After the murder occurred in a quiet section of Irving, the 18-year-old Davis took his bloodied clothes to the cleaners and then casually went to lunch. When he was arrested the next day, he called his dad and said, “Daddy, I’m in jail for murder. And I’m guilty.”

Hours later, his father sent a prominent criminal attorney to see Davis and, according to yesterday’s newspaper account, here is what was said:

“Maury, it has been 24 hours since you killed this woman,” the attorney, Dennis Brewster said. “You don’t seem that upset about it.”

“Yeah, “ Davis said, “I didn’t even know that old lady.”

“Well, it’s kind of like if you run over a dog or a cat,” Brewer said.

“No, man,” Davis said, “I like dogs and cats.”

With that chilling conversation, Maury Davis went to trial and was quickly given 20 years. Because of exemplary behavior, over-crowded prison conditions earned him a walk, allowing him to leave only eight years later without any parole restrictions.

When Davis was released at age 27, he began working as the janitor at Calvary Church in Irving and soon married the church’s piano player. The day of the wedding, he became the youth pastor at the church and, in 1988, left to become a fulltime evangelist.

In 1991 Cornerstone Church, on Old Hickory Boulevard in Madison, was a failing church with just 250 members on the rolls, but, even then, they didn’t care much about where Maury Davis had been – it was where he was going. Gloria Myrick, a secretary at the church, said it best. “We have heard his testimony and heard his preaching. We have seen him walk the walk, talk the talk.”

So let’s hear the talk: “What I did, you can never fix,” said the pastor. “There is not reparation, restitution. There isn’t anything you can do. Knowing my life still brings pain to people is a bitter pill to swallow.”

Asked about his past, Davis said, “My experience with God is my experience with God. You know Paul was a murderer, and yet he wrote the majority of the New Testament. Moses committed a murder. David was a murderer. If it weren’t for inmates, you wouldn’t have the best part of the Bible. That’s a tongue in cheek statement, but it’s true.”

So maybe the best verdict comes from John Looper, who, as a police detective back in 1975, is the guy that first put the handcuffs on Maury Davis’ wrists. “It took a lot of guts to do what Davis has done since he left prison.

“He’s either making a real good living and he’s conned a lot of people – or he’s truly converted. And, it’s not up to me to judge.”

royexum@aol.com


Double Standards And The Police

Today I received a ticket in the mail. I was not pulled over. No officer saw me speeding.  And yet, I, as a citizen, received a ticket in the mail for the sum of no less than $50.  I was doing 15 over after a long 12-hour shift of working in the emergency room at my hospital of employment.   Interestingly enough, two Chattanooga police officers were recently caught ... (click for more)

David Carroll: Saluting Navy Hero Randall Smith

On Tuesday afternoon, we will once again pause to salute an American hero, gone too soon.  The fifth serviceman killed by a deranged shooter in Chattanooga will be laid to rest.  Once again, thousands will line the highways or attend the burial at Chattanooga National Cemetery.  They will carry flags, and salute as the procession goes by.  We know his name and ... (click for more)

Assessor Of Property Bill Bennett Will Not Seek Re-Election

Bill Bennett, a longtime fixture in Hamilton County government, announced Monday that he plans to retire at the end of his current term as assessor of property. Mr. Bennett said, "After careful thought, prayer and encouragement from my family, I have made the decision to retire at the end of my current term and not place my name on the ballot for assessor of property in the 2016 ... (click for more)

Funeral Service For Petty Officer 2nd Class Randall Scott Smith Is Tuesday

The funeral service for Petty Officer 2nd Class Randall Scott Smith will be held on Tuesday at 2 p.m. at First Baptist Church in Fort Oglethorpe.   Petty Officer Smith is the last of the five servicemen, and the second in Chattanooga, to be buried after the attack on July 16.   Parking at the church is reserved for family and friends of the Smith family. The public ... (click for more)

Former McCallie Swimmer Qualifies For 2016 Olympics

Sean Ryan, a 2010 graduate of McCallie, qualified for an Olympic swimming competition early Monday morning. His fourth-place finish in the 10-kilometer open-water race July 27 at the FINA World Championships earned him a spot on the United States Olympic Team for next year’s Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. The race took place in the Kazanka River in Kazan, Russia, ... (click for more)

Chattanooga Football Club To Host National Semifinals Saturday

Saturday  Chattanooga Football Club won the National Premier Soccer League (NPSL) South Region Championship over the Myrtle Beach Mutiny – its second title in a row. That win puts CFC in the final four teams in the league still competing for the national title. By winning the South Region, Chattanooga FC became the number two seed in the country and will host the third-seeded ... (click for more)