Judge grants Davis new trial
DNA evidence may nullify first-degree murder conviction
A judge granted a new trial for a man convicted four years ago of the 2007 beating death of an adult bookstore owner in Spokane.
The Thursday ruling follows the conviction two weeks ago of another man for the same crime.
Superior Court Judge Greg Sypolt granted the request to hold a new trial for Jeramie R. Davis, 41, who was sentenced in 2008 to 40 years in prison for the first-degree murder of 74-year-old John G. “Jack” Allen.
Allen was bludgeoned to death with a baseball bat inside his store on East Sprague Avenue.
The decision will eventually erase Davis’ murder conviction. However, Sypolt asked the attorneys for additional arguments about how to deal with Davis’ property crimes convictions and whether he will be released pending the new trial.
“What we are waiting for is the order to be signed by the judge,” said Spokane County Deputy Prosecutor Dale Nagy, referring to vacating the murder conviction. “But (Sypolt) did indicate that based on what he heard that Mr. Davis was going to get a new trial.”
The date of that trial has not been set.
The hearing follows court documents that were filed in June by the lead Spokane police detective who said Davis may have been telling the truth when he said he didn’t kill Allen.
When a jury convicted Davis in 2008, Nagy told the jury to disregard the fact that DNA on the baseball bat used on Allen did not match Davis.
Last year, that DNA evidence was again processed by the Washington State Patrol crime laboratory, and this time it matched to 46-year-old Julio J. Davila. That prompted Nagy to charge Davila under the theory, according to court records, that he worked with Davis.
Davis admitted going back to the store multiple times on the night of the killing to steal pornography and sex toys that he planned to sell to raise money for drugs. Davis told his sister that he believed the store owner was sleeping; she convinced him to return to the store, and they called 911. Davis remained at the store when police arrived.
When the DNA linked the crime to Davila, both he and Davis denied knowing each other.
After Davila’s DNA match, the Innocence Project Northwest Clinic took up Davis’ case. It was argued Thursday by attorney Anna Tolin.
“Mr. Davis continues to wait for justice in this case,” Tolin wrote in court records.
The case appeared to have turned when Detective Tim Madsen submitted a report on June 19 that questioned whether Davis had been wrongly convicted of murder.
“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.”
Despite that, Nagy said he asked Sypolt to deny the motion for a new trial: “We did not feel there was sufficient additional evidence to warrant a new trial.”
Nagy also prosecuted the case against Davila, which was based almost exclusively on forensic evidence from the scene because investigators could not find a witness who saw Davila inside the store.
Based on fingerprints and DNA, a jury on July 13 convicted Davila of second-degree murder with a deadly weapon. He faces between 15 and 23 years at his sentencing, currently scheduled for Wednesday before Superior Court Judge Kathleen O’Connor.
Meghann M. Cuniff contributed to this report.