Dismayed prosecutors cheer life sentence for man who ‘nearly decapitated his mother’


Levi Isaac Davis (Canyon County Jail) and Karly Cantrell (West Valley Humane Society)

Levi Isaac Davis (Canyon County Jail) and Karly Cantrell (West Valley Humane Society)

A 27-year-old man in Idaho will likely spend the remainder of his days behind bars after admitting to killing his own mother, repeatedly stabbing and cutting her in what prosecutors previously referred to as “one of the most horrific fact patterns” they had ever come across. Third Judicial District Court Judge Brent L. Whiting on Friday ordered Levi Isaac Davis to serve a sentence of 40 years to life in a state correctional facility in the slaying of Karly Cantrell, authorities announced.

“This was one of the most horrible acts of violence that I have seen in all my years in law enforcement,” Canyon County Sheriff Kieran Donahue said in a statement following the sentencing hearing. “The sheer brutality shown by the defendant against his own mother and his complete lack of remorse are truly hard to fathom.”

Davis in September pleaded guilty to one felony count of second-degree murder in his mother’s death.

Davis will serve at least a 40-year fixed term in prison before he is eligible for parole and will remain on supervision for the rest of his life thereafter. Whiting also ordered Davis to submit a DNA sample to the Idaho criminal database, have no contact with the victim’s family for 100 years, and pay a $5,000 civil penalty.

According to a news release from the Canyon County Prosecutor’s Office, deputies working with the FBI METRO Violent Crime Task Force on Oct. 10, 2022, arrested Davis at a halfway house in Nampa, Idaho. The arrest came following an investigation that revealed he had “brutally stabbed and nearly decapitated his mother” inside of her home in Middleton, Idaho, earlier that day.

As previously reported by Law&Crime, Cantrell was found by her husband at about 3:35 p.m. that day in a pool of her own blood. Her body had chunks of hair and skin missing in a scenario Canyon County Prosecutor Sean Jorgensen described as “truly horrific.”

Authorities said that just prior to the murder, Cantrell and Kline had kicked Davis out of their home for what police described as “poor behavior.”

Court records show that Davis stabbed Cantrell multiple times in the neck and abdomen before fleeing the scene in his vehicle. After reviewing surveillance footage, investigators were able to locate Davis’ vehicle later that day at the halfway house where he resided. In plain sight inside Davis’ car, deputies observed shoes and pants that appeared to have bloodstains on them. Davis was located inside the halfway house a short time later and taken into custody.

“The impact of such a crime can’t be understated. Karly’s loss is devastating to this community. But, even more devastating is how it has impacted her family that she leaves behind for the rest of their lives,” Deputy Prosecutor Stephanie Morse stated at the sentencing hearing. “The Defendant brutally stabbed and murdered his mother. An act unconscionable.”

Prior to her death, Cantrell worked as the executive director of the West Valley Humane Society. The organization described her as a “kind, compassionate and empathetic friend, mother, wife, grandmother and daughter,” in a posthumous Facebook post.

Colin Kalmbacher contributed to this report.

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