Police: Benton Harbor murder sparked by romantic love affair

Indoors and away from the cold, a brother and sister were formally charged Tuesday afternoon for their alleged roles in a chilling double shooting.

The ambush attack happened around 11:30 p.m. Friday at a house in the 700 block of Ogden Ave. in Benton Harbor. The shooting killed Gary Alilovich, 25, of Niles and critically injured Heather Poe, 35, of Benton Harbor.

Jovan Davis, 28, of Benton Harbor and his younger sister Ashley Davis, 19, of Grand Forks, North Dakota, are now facing multiple felony charges for their alleged roles in the crime. Each appeared via video conference from the Berrien County Jail during their arraignments.

"I’m taking a look at your Berrien County criminal history and you have a fairly significant one. In reading your pre-trial report, it says you have six prior violent criminal convictions, a history of cocaine and marijuana use and that you are at the highest risk level,” Circuit Court Judge Angela Pasula remarked to Javon Davis.

According to Berrien County records obtained by NewsCenter 16, Jovan Davis’ criminal record dates back to 2003, just two weeks after he turned 19-years-old. His arrests include domestic violence, possession of cocaine and assaulting a police officer.

"You did possess and/or use a firearm and are ineligible to do so because you have been convicted of delivery of cocaine, a specified felony, and the requirements of regaining eligibility had not yet been met,” Judge Pasula added.

Davis, a Benton Harbor native, requested a court appointed attorney, citing unemployment and no financial savings. Judge Pasula granted his public defender request, but set Davis’ bail at $1 million cash surety citing the severity of his charges.

On Monday, Alilovich’s pregnant girlfriend Nikki Reed, 24, of Niles told NewsCenter 16, Alilovich and Poe were former lovers and that Davis was Poe's current boyfriend.

According to the probable cause affidavit obtained Tuesday, Davis told investigators he learned Alilovich and Poe were hanging-out Friday night at a home along Ogden Ave. Upon arriving at that residence, he reportedly forced his way inside and found the ex-couple having sexual intercourse in a rear bedroom.

Davis candidly told Benton Harbor detectives that he got into a heated argument Poe, at which point he was attacked by Alilovich. Claiming self-defense, Davis told officers he pulled out a .32 caliber handgun and shot Alilovich three times, but later retracted his statement and said he only fired two shots.

When asked how Poe also sustained multiple gunshot wounds, Davis concluded his girlfriend must have gotten caught in the cross fire.

The probable cause affidavit also detailed investigator’s conversation with eyewitness Crystal McKenzie, a tenant of the Ogden Ave. home and a longtime friend of Poe. McKenzie said she was smoking a cigarette on her front porch when Davis, who she knows as “Juvy,” arrived. McKenzie said she told Davis that Alilovich and Poe had just wrapped-up having sex. That statement prompted Davis, who reportedly had his right hand in his pocket gripping a gun-like object, to storm into the house.

Although Davis acknowledged a heated verbal argument with Poe, McKenzie said things went much further. The homeowner detailed Davis choking his girlfriend to the ground and beating her with his fists.

To protect her children from the escalating situation, McKenzie said she took her daughter to a neighbor’s house. Upon returning, she witnessed Davis yank a handgun from his pocket and allegedly shoot Alilovich three times. McKenzie told police Ashley Davis then grabbed the weapon from her brother and issued a final shot, forcing the soon-to-be-father’s body to fall face first into a bedroom window.

"Do you have any questions at all,” Judge Pasula asked Ashley Davis via video conference.

“Yes mam. I know this is the arraignment, but I'm just wondering... They say I've committed this crime, but have they tested the gun for residue,” Ashley Davis probed.

“I don't get involved with the facts of the case. All I'm doing is explaining to you what you've been charged with and what the penalty is for each one of those charges,” Judge Pasula responded.

In court, Ashley Davis, who has not lived in Berrien County since her sophomore year in high school, admitted to an out-of-state criminal record. Using that information and the severity of the alleged crime, Judge Pasula also set Davis’ bond at $1 million cash surety.

"You cannot have contact with any victim or family member of any victim in this matter. Not in person, not by writing, not by telephone, not by email, not through another party; no contact of any kind. No assaults, no weapons and if you were to make bond, it would be a tether bond,” Judge Pasula added.

An autopsy performed Sunday on Alilovich revealed three gunshot wounds, including one to the back of the head and another to the chest. Meantime Lakeland Hospital staff members confirm Poe was shot three to four times and suffered internal injuries from being severely beaten. Poe is expected to survive.

Jovan Davis is formally charged with open murder, assault with intent to murder, carrying a concealed weapon, felony firearm and possession of a firearm by a felon. If convicted and sentenced to the maximum level, Davis would serve two life sentences, plus 12 additional years behind bars.

Ashely Davis is formally charged with being an accessory after the fact-felony, felony firearm and assault. If convicted and sentenced to the maximum level, Ashley Davis would serve seven years behind bars.

The Davis siblings are due back in Berrien County Trial Court for their pre-exam conferences on Wednesday Jan. 30, at 8:30 a.m. They’ll then return to court the following day, Thursday Jan. 31, for their preliminary examination hearings before Judge Gary Bruce.

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