A man who was spared the death penalty by a St. Louis-area jury that instead assessed a life prison term in the 1977 shooting death of a police officer has died in prison.

A man who was spared the death penalty by a St. Louis-area jury that instead assessed a life prison term in the 1977 shooting death of a police officer has died in prison.

The Missouri Department of Corrections said 72-year-old James Davis died of apparent natural causes Saturday at a Jefferson City hospital.

Court records show Davis was being pursued by St. Charles police officer Gary Stroud after a reported tavern disturbance when he repeatedly shot Stroud with a shotgun. Stroud died a short time later.

Davis was convicted of capital murder, and prosecutors sought the death penalty. But jurors instead recommended that he get a life sentence without parole eligibility for 50 years.

At trial, defense attorneys argued Davis was not guilty by reason of mental disease or defect.