Suspect bound over for covering up murder

Saturday, September 7, 2002

POPLAR BLUFF, Mo. -- In a brief court appearance Thursday afternoon a Poplar Bluff woman accused of covering up an alleged murder was bound over to stand trial.

Laura Lee Hawkins, 39, of the 900 block of Cedar Street, appeared before Associate Circuit Judge John Bloodworth and told the court she wanted to waive her preliminary hearing.

After asking Hawkins several questions, Bloodworth accepted Hawkins' decision and bound her over to Division I.

Hawkins is charged with the Class D felonies of abandonment of a corpse and tampering with physical evidence in connection with the death of Porisha Davis, 39, of Wappapello.

Hawkins and Daniel Adam Canania, 42, of the 900 block of Cedar Street were allegedly in a Clifford Mitts' Henry Street residence when Mitts allegedly shot and killed Davis in early January.

Mitts, who died Aug. 21 of what authorities described as a serious illness, allegedly had an altercation with Davis over some missing money, according to earlier reports.

Mitts allegedly shot Davis, 39, in the chest with a handgun.

Hawkins and Canania allegedly did not report the crime and concealed her body inside the home, as well as disposing of trace evidence.

Canania faces the exact same charges as Hawkins in connection with Davis' death. His preliminary hearing is set for 1 p.m. Tuesday before Senior Judge Paul McGhee.

Both Hawkins and Canania remain in the Butler County jail on these charges, as well as unrelated ones for the distribution/manufacture/delivery of a controlled substance. They are being held on total bonds of $30,000 cash.

According to earlier reports, Davis' badly decomposed body was found by a fisherman at about 5:30 p.m. Aug. 2 in Black River, about one mile south of the Hargrove Bridge.

After Davis' body was recovered with the assistance of the Missouri State Water Patrol, it was taken to Farmington where an autopsy was performed by a forensic pathologist.

X-rays and dental records were used to identify the body; however, no cause of death was determined during the autopsy.

Davis' family members had reported her missing to the Wayne County Sheriff's Department in June. She reportedly was last seen in January in the Poplar Bluff area.

Black River, which had been in flood stage over the last several months, began to recede about a week prior to Davis' body being found snagged on a root wad.

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