pic Diane Durkin

Diane Durkin was sentenced to 15 years in jail this past week.

A Conway woman, who sat through four days of testimony in her murder trial, separated herself from her co-defendant Monday morning when she pleaded guilty to voluntary manslaughter in the killing of Roy Davis, a 56-year-old farm worker.

Durkin, 51, was offered the deal Monday morning by prosecuting attorneys Jimmy Richardson and Chris Helms, who promised her a sentence of between five and 15 years. Circuit Judge Benjamin Culbertson sentenced her to 15 years, the maximum for her plea deal.

She could have gotten a minimum of 30 years or a life sentence if she had been convicted of murder.

She entered her plea under the N.C. vs. Alford provision, through which she did not admit that she killed Davis, but in view of the evidence presented against her a conviction was possible. However, for purposes of sentencing it is the same as a standard guilty plea.

Betty Davis, who spoke for the Davis family, told Culbertson that the past two years have been a struggle for her family.

“The pain does not go way,” she said.

Davis said her family did not want to take a life for a life, but they wanted Durkin taken out of society because she’s dangerous and took part in a cold-blooded killing.

“He (Roy Davis) was trustworthy, caring and loving. He was a fun person to be around,” she said.

Later she said, “He was a helpless human being, not a dog.”

She called her brother’s death a “brutal murder” and said to Durkin, “If you’re able to do the crime, you’re able to do the time.”

Durkin’s attorney Jarrett Bouchette with the Johnny Gardner Law Firm said Durkin acted in the angry manner she did because she has a history of sexual assault that goes back to her childhood.

“She, at least in her mind, was being re-victimized,” he said.

He said that’s what caused the fear and anger that she displayed on the 911 tape.

“It doesn’t leave you. It stays with you all your life,” he said, adding that she is still receiving treatment due to her history with sexual assault.

Durkin and her boyfriend, James “Jimmy” Rosenbaum, 54, lived together in a mobile home on Highway 548 when the killing happened. Evidence showed they beat Davis to death using a baseball bat, a high-powered pellet gun and physical blows to his chest.

Davis died when his aorta burst during the beating. He also suffered broken ribs and nonfatal head injuries.

The duo hoped to avoid a trial when they asked Culbertson in July to declare the killing self-defense in accordance with the state’s Stand Your Ground law.

However, Culbertson rejected the Stand Your Ground motion.

In that proceeding, Durkin testified that she was not working at the time of Davis’ death and the two were living on Rosenbaum’s military benefits.

She said she started using cocaine and marijuana when she was 13-years-od, but quit after a couple of years after a drunken driver killed her mother.

She testified then that she was using heroin when Davis died.

She said she met Davis through a friend that he was smoking crack with. They gave her some and she “shot it.”

She said she hadn’t seen Davis for about a year when she went by the farm and saw him. He didn’t have a car and asked her for a ride. They went to an ATM where she withdrew $20 and gave it to Davis, who had asked to borrow it.

She said he came by her house later when he tried to assault her. She said he jumped on her and refused to get up, even though she was kicking and screaming.

“I was in shock,” she said. “I didn’t know what to do. I thought he was either going to kill me or rape me.”

Rosenbaum came into the mobile home during the incident with MMA (mixed martial arts) boxing gloves and a baseball bat and began to beat Davis.

Durkin called 911 and during the call that took more than 10 minutes, Davis is heard crying out for Rosenbaum to get off of him. He also calls out to God as the thuds of the blows to his body are heard.

Durkin and Rosenbaum ask the 911 operator to send police.

In the 911 call Durkin screamed and cursed, while Davis moaned several times that he couldn’t move. In the profanity-laced tape, she is heard calling Davis a “sucking pig”, telling him to quit yelling, calling him a liar and a “scum bucket.”

She admitted on the witness stand that on the tape she is heard saying, “Give me that bat. Give me that bat,” and later saying, “I’ll kill you myself.”

By the time police arrived, Durkin was dead.

Prosecutors argued in the trial that the killing was premeditated and that Durkin and Rosenbaum conspired ahead of time to kill Davis because Rosenbaum was jealous and especially didn’t like that Durkin had been having sex with a black man, and Durkin acted out of greed because Rosenbaum wanted her to get a job or get out.


I'm the editor of the Horry Independent, a weekly newspaper in Conway, South Carolina. I cover city hall and courts, among many other subjects. Know of a good story? Call me at 843-488-7241.

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