February 6, 2008 in City

Trial begins in adult bookstore slaying

Staff writer
 

A Spokane County Superior Court jury heard two very different versions of what happened June 17 when the elderly owner of an adult bookstore was bludgeoned and robbed on East Sprague Avenue.

Jeramie Davis, 37, is accused of first-degree murder in the death of 74-year-old John G. “Jack” Allen in one of the two bookstores Allen owned in Spokane. Davis is also charged with robbery and trafficking in stolen property.

Spokane County Deputy Prosecutor Dale Nagy told the jury he expects the evidence to show that Davis, intent on robbery, surprised Allen as he was preparing to eat dinner alone on Father’s Day in his business at 123 E. Sprague.

Allen “never got a chance to enjoy his spaghetti,” Nagy said. “He was hit with a baseball bat and lay there for four hours.” He died the next day at a local hospital.

Jeffrey S. Leslie, Davis’ public defender, stressed the state’s lack of physical evidence in the killing. “There is no forensic evidence Jeramie Davis committed this crime,” Leslie said.

The state will offer the testimony of Elizabeth Troudt, a prostitute whom Nagy said was working East Sprague the night of the killing. She’ll testify that her first customer of the night, Davis, was counting a wad of cash and told her he’d just “hit a lick” – a street term, Nagy said, for robbery.

Another state’s witness is Nichole M. Marriott, who will testify that she and Davis had spent that day “boosting,” or stealing, to raise cash. Nagy said she and Davis went back to Allen’s store later that night, where she saw Allen lying on the floor and ran out.

Davis then sought the help of his sister Tina Jackson, who went back to the store with him, Nagy said.

While investigators failed to find any DNA or fingerprints belonging to Davis, they found gloves in Davis’ white Mustang, Nagy said.

Nagy told jurors they’ll have “no reasonable doubt” that Davis is guilty of murder, burglary and trafficking in stolen property.

But Leslie, Davis’ public defender, said when investigators tested the baseball bat, DNA on the top portion was identified as Allen’s and DNA on the rest came back to an unidentified “Person A.” And there was no DNA from Davis in Allen’s truck, parked a couple of blocks from the store, where an empty cash register taken from the store was found, Leslie added.

Leslie said the adult bookstore is in a rough section of town and had been burglarized several times.

Davis was working as a janitor but had been leading a “careless lifestyle,” Leslie said. He said Davis dropped Marriott off at her house the night of the killing, then went looking for a prostitute. He went into the dark bookstore and thought Allen was simply snoring on the floor.

“He figured the old man had been drinking and passed out,” Leslie said. He said Davis shoplifted some DVDs and a checkbook with $200 in it before cruising East Sprague, where he found Troudt. He said the phrase “hit a lick” uttered by Davis means “come upon something for free.”

After Davis returned to the store with his sister, Jackson tried to wake up Allen. When he didn’t respond, they called 911.

Leslie acknowledged that Davis lied to police about stealing items from Allen’s store but said Davis “was not responsible for the death of Allen in any way.”


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