Earnest Daise found guilty in Dale double-murder trial

mmcnab@beaufortgazette.comOctober 17, 2013 

Only after leaving the courtroom did Jeanine Mullen's family celebrate the verdict with tears and hugs.

They had waited nearly four years for Earnest Daise to stand trail for the murder of Mullen and her 4-year-old son; they waited about three hours Oct. 17, 2013, for a jury of seven men and five women to convict him.

"It's really rough when you're dealing with the innocence and death of child," said Jerry Green of Beaufort, a cousin of the second murder victim, Mullen's son Waltfredo Davis-Mullen. "I thought it was a good verdict."

Davis-Mullen was killed Nov. 15, 2009 -- his fourth birthday.

Daise, 31, also was convicted of assault and battery with intent to kill his son. Jeremiah Daise, 2 at the time, was shot through the ear but survived his father's attack.

Next, the jury will decide whether Daise gets the death penalty or life in prison without parole. Circuit Court Judge Carmen Mullen, who is not related to the victim, scheduled the trial's sentencing phase to being Monday.

In addition to two charges of first-degree murderand assault and battery with intent to kill, Daise was convicted Thursday of trafficking crack cocaine and possession with intent to distribute marijuana.

The defense made closing arguments Thursday morning, and Judge Mullen sent the jury to deliberate at about 12:30 p.m. Verdicts were reached shortly after 3 p.m. and read in the Beaufort County Courthouse at 3:30 p.m.

Daise was silent when the verdict was read; he showed no emotion.

Relatives of both Mullen and Daise were in the courtroom, as well, and also remained silent.

Outside the courtroom, Mullen's family cried, hugged and showed relief.

Daise's family members declined to comment. Most of Mullen's family did, as well.

Green was in the courtroom for the first time Thursday and departed "very satisfied" with the conviction. He said he knew Jeanine Mullen for seven years before her death.

"I miss her smile," he said. "She was always friendly. She's resting now and in a better place. Someday we'll all get to see her again."


Daise chose not to testify. Jury deliberations began after Solicitor Duffie Stone and defense attorney Mark MacDougall gave closing arguments.

Stone said Jeanine Mullen and her family were mere "property" to Daise -- property he no longer wanted on Nov. 15, 2009.

"She wanted friendship, love and comfort," he said. "He wanted sex. She thought of him like her best friend. He thought of her like she was his property. Everything he dealt with that day -- Jeanine, the children, her minivan -- was just his property.

"When he was done with them, he was just done."

Stone said circumstantial, direct and scientific evidence proved Daise was "the only person" who could have killed Mullen and her 4-year-old son.

What's more, Stone said, Mullen's death was a "personal killing," and the proof was in the manner of her shooting -- directly between the eyes, with the gun pressed against her head, forensic pathologist Nicholas Batalis testified Wednesday.


Daise's defense attorney, Mark MacDougall, said the evidence used to construct the prosecutors' timeline was inconsistent and did not prove Daise killed Mullen. He also noted the weapon used in the killings was never recovered.

"The state wanted someone to pay, and they decided within a few minutes that person was Earnest Daise," he said.

MacDougall also said investigators failed to process Mullen's minivan for evidence.

The prosecution said Daise had taken the van earlier in the day and returned in it later in the day. Earlier in the trial, Mullen's father testified that the van was not in his daughter's driveway on the morning of the murders, when he came to pick up her two older sons.

However, the van was there again in the afternoon -- with all but one of its doors open -- when the three returned and discovered the grisly scene inside.

Daise was the only person besides Jeanine Mullen who drove the minivan, according to testimony.

Daise denied to investigators that he had been driving the minivan -- or that he had even been to Mullen's house that day, according to testimony Wednesday by Beaufort County Sheriff's Office investigator Jody Hiers.

"In his mind, the van was the only link to him," Stone said. "What he didn't know is that Jeremiah was alive, or that science would link him to it.

"It's why he had to lie."

Attorneys from both sides did not comment on the verdict; Circuit Judge Carmen Mullen issued a gag order on both the defense and prosecution teams before the start of the trial.

Follow reporter Matt McNab at twitter.com/IPBG_Matt.

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Tweets from the trial

Here is the record of Tweets from reporter Matt McNab throughout the Daise trial:

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