April 14, 2013 in Opinion

Smart Bombs: Arrest zealous prosecutions

By The Spokesman-Review
 

Heartless. Immoral. Thief. There’s a lot of names you could call Jeramie Davis, but murderer isn’t one of them. The Spokane man was sent to prison in the 2007 porn shop death of John G. “Jack” Allen, though the DNA evidence on the murder weapon, a baseball bat, pointed elsewhere.

Subsequent DNA tests revealed another suspect, Julio J. Davila, who was convicted of the murder, and the judge agreed to vacate Davis’ murder conviction and 40-year prison sentence. It should’ve ended there, but Spokane County Deputy Prosecutor Dale Nagy had a hunch Davis was still involved, so he pushed for a new trial.

Jurors in the initial Davis trial were told of a lone-killer scenario, but after Davila’s conviction, Nagy had a new theory: the two men had worked together. Problem is, he couldn’t prove they even knew each other. Nonetheless, Nagy pressed on, which kept Davis behind bars longer than he should’ve been for robbing the shop.

Ultimately, Davis’ mother was able to enlist The Innocence Project, a nonprofit legal clinic, to negotiate the deal that set Davis free on Thursday.

Taxpayers ought to wonder why the prosecutor’s office would cling to this flimsy theory in the face of relentless budgetary problems. About 70 percent of Spokane County’s budget is for criminal justice and every facet of that system is facing a squeeze. Remember the case of the shoplifter whose charge was raised from simple theft to second-degree robbery because she bumped into the store manager? That was also Nagy’s case. When a judge reduced the charge, the prosecutor’s office filed an appeal. After several rounds of legal wrangling, the cased ended up being treated as the $163 shoplifting case it always was.

Maybe we need to pass a law against wasting public dollars like this. Call it felony squandering.

You don’t say. Have you noticed how many politicians have recently discovered obvious rationales for their “evolution” on gay marriage?

President Barack Obama: “There’s no doubt that as I see friends, families, children of gay couples who are thriving, you know, that has an impact on how I think about these issues.”

Hillary Clinton: “LGBT Americans are our colleagues, our teachers, our soldiers, our friends and our loved ones, and they are full and equal citizens and deserve the rights of citizenship. That includes marriage.”

U.S. Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio, after discovering his son is gay: “It allowed me to think of this issue from a new perspective, and that’s of a dad who loves his son a lot and wants him to have the same opportunities that his brother and sister would have.”

Um, couldn’t they have just taken gay and lesbian Americans at their word? Did they really have to know someone firsthand to understand? Was wanting the same thing as everyone else really a difficult concept to grasp?

Not to be cynical, but I checked to see whether public attitudes have also evolved on gay marriage. Sure enough; it’s a pretty safe position now.

Left Behind. Here are two more issues it’s safe to evolve on now: background checks for private weapon sales and the legalization of marijuana.

A variety of polls show that more than 90 percent of Americans support background checks. Gun owners are strongly supportive, too. This is only a close call in the halls of Congress and state legislatures, where the gun lobby can concentrate its political firepower.

Meanwhile, a recent Pew Center for Research poll shows that Americans support the legalization of marijuana, 52 percent to 45 percent. Just a decade ago, only one-third of Americans were on board.

So, perhaps it’s time for our leaders to embark on a couple more personal journeys of discovery, because their followers are leaving them behind.

Associate Editor Gary Crooks can be reached at garyc@spokesman.com or (509) 459-5026. Follow him on Twitter @GaryCrooks.


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