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Convicted killer found dead in prison: Cause of death not released

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. -- The man who killed a Mitchell woman in 2013 was found dead in his prison cell early Monday. Kent Davidson, 37, was convicted in April and sentenced to life in prison in May for first-degree murder for the death of Crystal Ann...

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SIOUX FALLS, S.D. -- The man who killed a Mitchell woman in 2013 was found dead in his prison cell early Monday.

Kent Davidson, 37, was convicted in April and sentenced to life in prison in May for first-degree murder for the death of Crystal Ann Schulz, 26. Schulz and Davidson were engaged for a time before her death. But when she broke it off with Davidson, he devised a plan to kill her, according to court documents. Her body was found three days after Davidson shot her at Schulz's mother's rural residence in Brule County.

Davidson's body was found in his cell in the Jameson Annex of the South Dakota State Penitentiary, but officials are not releasing how Davidson was found or how he may have died. An autopsy is pending, according to a press release.

Schulz’s mother, Agnes Clement of Dickinson, N.D., heard about Davidson's death Monday while working as a rural mail carrier associate.

"I was just shocked. Really, totally shocked," Clement said Monday afternoon. "I am having some mixed feelings regarding his death. I value human life no matter what. I always see the good in people and I did see the good in him when he was with Crystal, but I just couldn't see it in him after he killed Crystal."

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Clement can't say she's happy about Davidson's death, but is sure justice has been served. Despite that, she feels she can't have total closure. She said Davidson wanted to meet with her, but claims the meeting was prevented by the attorney general's office.

"Not that anything he could have said would have made a difference, but it would have given me some closure. I had some questions I would have liked to have asked him," Clement said.

"I just wanted to know if Crystal suffered. In my mind, when he killed her the way he did, when she heard that gun being cocked, I can't imagine the things going through her mind."

South Dakota Attorney General Marty Jackley released a brief statement about Davidson's death Monday afternoon.

"At the time of his death, as standard practice, the Department of Corrections requested the Division of Criminal Investigations to review the matter for any evidence of foul play," Jackley said. "Our sympathies go out to both families during this difficult time."

Davidson also was serving a five-year sentence for forgery out of Tripp County and a five-year sentence for second-degree escape out of Minnehaha County. He also had ties to the Jamestown, N.D., area.

Davidson is the third inmate in the South Dakota prison system to die within a week.

James McVay, 44, was found hanging in his cell overnight in the South Dakota State Penitentiary on Thursday, corrections officials said. He was formally sentenced to death in May.

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McVay had pleaded guilty, but mentally ill, to murder in the 2011 stabbing of 75-year-old Maybelle Schein, who was a graduate of Dakota Wesleyan University in Mitchell. McVay said he killed Schein and stole her car as part of his plan to drive to Washington and kill the president. He was later arrested in Madison, Wis.

An autopsy is being done to determine how convicted arsonist Leo Christensen, 59, died at the Mike Durfee State Prison in Springfield. Christensen became ill at the prison Sept. 2 and was transported by ambulance then airlifted to a Sioux Falls hospital, where he died the next day.

Christensen was sentenced in 2003 to 50 years in prison for first-degree arson.

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