Last defendant enters plea in 2014 murder of York's Dashaun Davis in botched holdup
A York City man who was held in a state mental hospital for more than two years has accepted responsibility for his role in the 2014 murder of Dashaun Davis during a botched robbery.
Naquan "Squeeze" Coakley, 29, appeared in York County Court on Thursday and pleaded no contest to third-degree murder, court records state.
His other charges were dropped in exchange for his admission, including first- and second-degree murder, robbery and conspiracy.
It was an open plea, meaning it will be up to presiding Common Pleas Judge Harry M. Ness to determine the length of Coakley's prison sentence.
Third-degree murder carries a maximum possible sentence of 20 to 40 years in state prison, but shorter sentences can be handed down. In Pennsylvania, first- and second-degree murder convictions carry automatic life sentences without the possibility of parole.
No contest pleas have the same effect as guilty pleas.
Defense attorney Suzanne Smith said Coakley's mental-health issues required him to plead no contest, or nolo contendere, rather than guilty. That's because defendants can't admit to committing crimes they can't remember taking part in.
"His memory is not real clear involving that whole time frame," she said.
Ness ordered the probation department to conduct a pre-sentence investigation into Coakley's past to help the judge determine an appropriate punishment, court records state.
Smith said she'll wait to see that PSI before deciding on what length of sentence she will argue for.
"Based on what I anticipate seeing, I will argue for something less than 20 to 40 years and put out some reasons (for that argument)," she said.
Smith said Coakley "does have a lot of remorse and regret for his involvement," and wanted to tell that to Davis' family. The attorney said she advised her client to wait until his sentencing hearing to address the victim's family in court.
Ness scheduled sentencing for April 19, court records state.
The background: Coakley was held at Torrance State Hospital in Westmoreland County for more than 2½ years after it was determined in July 2016 that he wasn't mentally competent to stand trial.
On March 26, 2019, Ness issued a ruling stating Coakley had become competent to stand trial.
York City Police have said Coakley and robbery-crew ringleader Jeffrey Allen Reid Jr., along with others, went on a failed robbery spree the night of July 19, 2014.
Reid, now 34, was convicted of first-degree murder, robbery and related offenses. He is currently serving a life sentence plus 24 to 48 years.
Known on the streets as "Sincere," Reid unleashed a torrent of profanity at the jurors who convicted him in March 2016.
Co-defendants Malik "Problem" Williams and Shonique Smith-Hanna pleaded guilty to attempted robbery and conspiracy to commit robbery. Williams was sentenced to 4½ to nine years in prison; Smith-Hanna was sentenced to 30 to 60 months in prison, court records state.
Williams is Coakley's younger brother.
Failed holdup spree: Reid's group first lurked outside a bar in York City's east end, where they intended to lure out a customer and rob him, according to trial testimony. But the man, who lives next door to the bar, thwarted the attempt by slamming his front door in Williams' face.
Then Reid, Williams and Coakley went to the home of a woman on the west end of York City who testified she considered Reid one of her best friends. That attempt also failed because they were unable to kick down her door, according to testimony.
Either Reid or Coakley fired Reid's .380-caliber handgun into the air before fleeing, testimony revealed.
All four members of the crew ended up back at Reid's home, where Reid reloaded his handgun so they could go back out and try to commit a successful robbery, according to testimony.
Davis, 23, was parked in the 200 block of Union Street, just around the corner from his Juniper Street home, and was sitting in his car listening to music when Reid and Coakley walked up to rob him, according to prosecutors.
Testimony indicates Coakley shot Davis when Davis tried to grab for the gun, and that Reid ordered Coakley to execute Davis because the victim recognized Reid and called him by his street name. They then stole his cellphone, prosecutors have said.
Hard worker: Davis was a gifted athlete who loved to play basketball and who attended Clemson University, his mother has said. He played ball for William Penn Senior High School, graduating in 2008.
"Dashaun was an amazing child," Chamaine Carlo said. "You put a ball in his hand, and it was like magic."
He worked three jobs at one time and had ideas to start small businesses, according to Carlo.
He attended college, cared for his younger brothers and sent them money when they went to college, she has said.
"My family prayed day and night for justice," Carlo told The York Dispatch after Reid's conviction.
— Reach senior crime reporter Liz Evans Scolforo at email@example.com or on Twitter at @LizScolforoYD.