Veterinarian sentenced to 25 years for husband's murder

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A Texas veterinarian was sentenced to 25 years in prison in October after pleading no contest to charges of murdering her husband and tampering with evidence.

As part of the plea agreement with prosecutors, Dr. Wendi Mae Davidson of San Angelo was sentenced to 25 years for the murder charge and 10 years on each of the evidence-tampering charges in the death of Air Force Staff Sgt. Michael L. Severance.

The three sentences will be served concurrently, and Dr. Davidson will be eligible for parole in 2019.

Dr. Davidson reported her husband missing in January 2005. According to police and prosecutors, Dr. Davidson, the owner of a small animal clinic, had poisoned her husband with a mix of phenobarbital and pentobarbital.

Police arrested the veterinarian the following March after her brother informed investigators that Dr. Davidson claimed to have found Severance dead in bed and, fearing a family member had killed him, dumped the body in a stock tank on the ranch of a family friend.

After the arrest, investigators recovered Severance's body, which had been stabbed 41 times and weighted down with more than 140 pounds of items, including a boat anchor.

A police search of Dr. Davidson's clinic revealed records indicating she had administered phenobarbital to a dog. The dog's owner stated that the dog was not injected with the drug, however. A grand jury indicted Dr. Davidson on one count of murder and two counts of evidence tampering (see JAVMA, July 15, 2005).

Defense attorneys had requested that Judge Tom Gossett suppress prosecution evidence. They argued that an agent with the Air Force Office of Special Investigations had violated state and federal law by putting a tracking device on Dr. Davidson's car early in the investigation. (The Air Force had begun its own investigation of Severance's disappearance when he did not return from leave.)

Soon after Gossett dismissed the defense motion at the Oct. 16 hearing, Dr. Davidson entered her plea of no contest. As part of the plea agreement, Dr. Davidson's lawyers can appeal the ruling to dismiss the evidence to the Texas 3rd Circuit Court of Appeals, which could overturn the decision and order a new trial.