‘You’ll hear him die’: Case begins against couple accused of murder caught on 911 call

Many murder trials become whodunit cases. The one against James Rosenbaum and Diane Durkin is different. Was it murder or was it self-defense?

“What you’re going to hear about today and the rest of this week is about murder,” Horry County Solicitor Jimmy Richardson told a jury Tuesday, “and murder in the most gruesome manner imaginable.”

Richardson and defense attorneys laid out their views of what happened on July 11, 2016. The state charged Durkin and Rosenbaum with murder for killing Roy Davis. The state contends that Durkin and Rosenbaum lured Davis to their Conway-area trailer. Rosenbaum was upset with the relationship between Durkin and Davis.

Durkin picked Davis up and gave him a ride to the trailer where Rosenbaum waited nearby, the state alleges. They then attacked Davis with a bat, police said. Much of the assault is heard during a 911 call.

“You’ll hear him die,” Richardson said of Davis on the call.

“You’ll hear that bat striking Roy Davis over and over again,” he said. “The reason is Roy Davis is dead is he was beaten about the head with a baseball bat.”

The 911 tape was played during a previous stand-your-ground hearing for the defendants. A judge said the self-defense claims were for a jury to decide and declined to dismiss the charges against Durkin and Rosenbaum.

The phone call features both Durkin and Rosenbaum talking to a 911 dispatcher in a loud and frantic manner while they still hit Davis. The two claim Davis was trying to rape Durkin. She pleads with the dispatcher to send police help.

Davis is also heard on the call pleading for the attack to stop.

“You’re going to have to decide if it’s self-defense, if it’s a plan, if it’s a plot or if it’s cold hard murder,” Richardson said.

Durkin’s attorney Jarrett Bouchette agreed and said the case was about the 911 call and she is the victim.

“Diane Durkin was the victim of an assault that occurred in her own home,” Bouchette said.

Rosenbaum’s attorney Alex Hyman said his client saw his girlfriend being sexually assaulted. He asked the jury to imagine they returned home to hear their loved one screaming in terror and they too would grab whatever weapon they could find to stop the attack.

“This struggle seems to go on forever,” Hyman said.

When police arrived, they separated Rosenbaum and Durkin and treated them as suspects, when they feel like the victim, Hyman said.

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Alex Lang is the True Crime reporter for The Sun News covering the legal system and how crime impacts local residents. He says letting residents know if they are safe is a vital role of a newspaper. Alex has covered crime in Detroit, Iowa, New York City, West Virginia and now Horry County.