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Murder doubts conceded in 2007 beating death

Investigator: DNA evidence may make convict’s innocence ‘more plausible’

The lead investigator in the 2007 beating death of an adult bookstore owner in Spokane now is questioning whether the wrong man was convicted of murder and sentenced to 40 years in prison.

Spokane Police Detective Tim Madsen, in new court documents, acknowledges that 41-year-old Jeramie R. Davis may have been telling the truth when he claimed that 74-year-old John G. “Jack” Allen already was dead on the floor when he arrived at the adult bookstore and made a series of return trips throughout the night to burglarize it.

Prompting the re-examination of the case was last year’s discovery that DNA found on the murder weapon matched 46-year-old Julio Davila, who now is standing trial in Spokane County Superior Court for the murder that Davis already has been convicted of. Davis’ DNA was not found on the bat that police say was used to bludgeon the victim.

“The new evidence supporting the charges against Julio J. Davila may raise the question of whether Jeramie Davis was wrongly convicted of murdering John Allen,” Madsen wrote in a June 19 report filed as part of the case against the new suspect, Davila. It marks the first time police have formally acknowledged that the wrong man may have been convicted of murdering Allen.

Davis, who doesn’t dispute his burglary conviction, is trying to get the murder conviction tossed out.

A hearing has been set for July 26 on a request by Davis’ attorney, Anna Tolin, of the Seattle-based Innocence Project Northwest Clinic, for Superior Court Judge Greg Sypolt to grant a new trial.

“I think when you have the lead detective, who has been involved in this case for a long time, acknowledging this is critical new evidence that brings into question the validity of the prior verdict, I would hope that the court would consider that and grant a new trial,” Tolin said.

Both Davila and Davis told police they don’t know each other. In the current trial, Deputy Spokane County Prosecutor Dale Nagy has not presented any witnesses who saw Davis and Davila together, despite earlier assertions that the two men worked together in killing Allen.

Nagy declined comment Wednesday, saying he could not talk about either case during the Davila trial.

Tolin said she hoped Nagy would vacate Davis’ murder conviction based on the new report by Madsen.

The police detective wrote about how he visited Davis in prison after the DNA match to Davila and inquired whether they knew each other.

“Mr. Davis denied knowing or having any involvement with Julio Davila,” Madsen wrote in the court record. “Mr. Davis maintains he was innocent of the murder of John Allen – the new evidence may make Mr. Davis’ claims more plausible.”

Tolin said Nagy, the prosecutor, has not yet filed his response to Davis’ request for a new trial. In the 2008 trial of Davis, Nagy told the jury to disregard the DNA evidence on the bat because he suggested that Davis wore gloves during the crime.

At his sentencing in 2008, Davis said that he hoped he would get another day in court, according to court transcripts.

“Today I hold my head up and contain my anger as to this situation and keep my integrity, for I know I will be here again with perhaps the same circumstances, but surely a different outcome,” he said.