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DNA provides new evidence in case of bookstore owner’s violent death

A first-degree murder trial began Tuesday in the 2007 bludgeoning death of an adult-bookstore owner, even though another man already was convicted for that crime.

The man on trial now, Julio J. Davila, 46, became a suspect last year after DNA evidence was re-run on the murder weapon. Davila’s name came back as a match in a computer database of convicted felons.

No witnesses can put Davila at the scene, however, and the man previously convicted of killing 74-year-old John G. “Jack” Allen told authorities he didn’t know Davila.

Jeramie R. Davis, 41, remains in state prison after having served more than four years of a 40-year prison sentence from his murder and property crime convictions.

A request for a new trial for Davis, who is now being represented by the Innocence Project Northwest Clinic, recently was postponed.

On Tuesday, Deputy Prosecutor Dale Nagy told the jury that “none of the fingerprints or DNA (on the murder weapon) came back to Jeramie Davis.”

Nagy said a witness saw Davis wearing gloves as he handled items he later admitted stealing from the store while Allen lay bleeding on the floor. While he made no connection between Davis and Davila, Nagy said Davila was living on the street behind Allen’s store.

Defense attorneys Tom Krzyminski and Kevin Griffin previously asked Superior Court Judge Kathleen O’Connor to allow them to call Nagy as a witness.

Krzyminski claimed that Nagy implied to the jury that convicted Davis that he had acted alone. But Nagy has said he is prosecuting Davila on the theory that he and Davis worked together.

“You will hear the many versions of what Mr. Davis told police,” Griffin said. “But only one thing was consistent: He never said anyone else was there.”

Evidence includes a palm print on the counter near the cash register and a fingerprint that matched Davila’s.

Griffin pointed out that no witnesses could say when the murder weapon came into the store or when Davila’s DNA was deposited on the handle. “The prints belonging to a local pharmacist were also found. Nobody believes he was involved.”

On June 17, 2007, Davis spent the day stealing items in an attempt to raise money for drugs and to pay for a prostitute’s transportation to Tacoma, Nagy said.

Later that night, he said that he had “hit a lick,” which Nagy said was street slang for committing a robbery. He had a large amount of cash and a trunk full of stolen pornography.

Davis repeatedly returned to the store until his sister persuaded him to call 911. Davis and his sister were at the store when police arrived.

At his 2008 trial, Davis did not testify. His attorney, Jeffrey Leslie, did not defend Davis’ actions after his client had discovered Allen bleeding on the floor of the bookstore, but Leslie said the state did not prove that Davis killed the store owner.

“The person who killed Mr. Allen is unidentified individual A,” Leslie said, referring to the unidentified DNA on the murder weapon later matched to Davila. “Jeramie Davis is a thief and not a murderer.”