NEW ORLEANS, La. (WVUE) - A man pleaded guilty to amended charges Monday (June 11) in connection with the death of his longtime friend, 39-year-old Donald Dillard, who died after being shot twice last February.
Cardero Davis, 30, was expected to go to trial for murder Monday, but instead accepted a last-minute plea deal, according to the District Attorney’s office. Instead of one count of second-degree murder, Cardero pleaded guilty to a manslaughter charge, the DA said. He also pleaded guilty as charged to one count of being a felon in possession of a firearm.
Davis was arrested after showing up at the first district police station shortly before 3:20 a.m. on Feb. 25, 2018. He was wearing blood-soaked clothes, according to police, and admitted to shooting his friend and then bringing him to University Medical Center before turning himself in to police.
According to police reports, Davis told investigators he shot Dillard while the two were in a car together, driving around and hanging out. He claimed it was in self defense because he believed Dillard was trying to “lure” him somewhere to hurt or kill him. When he saw Dillard reaching towards his waistband, Davis told police he thought his friend was reaching for a gun to shoot him. Instead, Davis fired at his friend, striking him twice.
Despite his suspicions, Davis said he did not see Dillard carrying any weapons that night and the two did not have any ongoing disputes. After admitting to what happened, Davis apologized for what happened and told police he didn’t mean to hurt his friend.
By admitting to manslaughter, Davis faced between 20 and 40 years in prison, the DA’s office said. After five of Dillard’s family members gave victim impact statements, Orleans criminal District Judge Paul Bonin sentenced Davis to 20 years in prison, without the benefit of parole.
Bonin cited Davis’ apparent remorse and admittance of his responsibility for Dillard’s death as reason for imposing the minimum sentence.
Defense attorney and City Councilman Jason Williams represented Davis and assistant district attorneys Michael Trummel and Daniel Smart prosecuted the case.