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WOODBURY — Determining that the convicted killer of a 79-year-old Paulsboro woman qualified for an extended prison sentence because of a criminal record that included two rapes, a judge has sentenced Samuel K. Davis, 48, of Paulsboro, to life in prison with no possibility of parole in the death of Thirza Sweeten, whose body was found beaten, strangled and stabbed in her 1563 South Delaware St. home on Mach 19, 2012.

“The defendant preyed upon an elderly and infirm victim who was alone in her Paulsboro home,” Superior Court Judge Kevin T. Smith said, according to the court’s recording of the May 21proceeding. The victim “was physically incapable of defending herself from such a vicious attack,” Judge Smith said.

“The defendant is a persistent offender,” Assistant Gloucester County Prosecutor  Temperance Williamson said in arguing for an extended prison term for Davis. Williamson presented the prosecution’s case against Davis in a trial that ended with his conviction for first-degree aggravated manslaughter by a jury on Feb. 4.  

Citing Davis’ record of five prior felony convictions, Smith said “I do believe recidivism is a given if the defendant were on the street.” The judge said he found no factors in the defendant’s history favoring leniency.

Davis’ lawyer asked the court to consider limiting the sentence to 30 years without parole, pointing out that his client was crime-free until 1995, when “he got caught up in the drug culture and things went downhill from there.” Davis added he is “not a bad person” and maintained his innocence.

Williamson said the 1995 sexual assault crimes “are significant” and asked for a life sentence.

The 1995 crimes and the killing of Thirza Sweeten demonstrate “an extreme violent tendency of Mr. Davis that requires society’s protection from him,” Smith concluded.

Davis has been jailed in default of $750,000 bail since his arrest on March 20, 2012.