Man gets life term after decade awaiting murder trial
DOTHAN, Ala. (AP) — An Alabama man who spent a decade in jail on a murder charge in what his defense called a violation of the U.S. Constitution’s speedy-trial requirement, has been sentenced to life in prison, with eventual eligibility for parole.
A jury found Kharon Davis guilty of murder last month in the 2007 shooting death of Pete Reaves. Prosecutors said Davis shot Reaves when Davis and two friends went to Reaves’ apartment to buy marijuana.
Davis spent 10 years in the Houston County Jail without bond as the case went through changes in defense teams, judges and prosecutors. Davis spent most of those years facing possible execution if convicted. In March, a new prosecution team told the court they would not seek the death penalty. Jurors convicted Davis on the lesser charge of murder, instead of capital murder, which would have brought a sentence of life without the possibility of parole.
The Dothan Eagle reports that Davis, in a statement he read before his sentencing on Tuesday, apologized to Reaves’ family for actions that led to his death, but denied being the shooter.
“I did not go to your son’s apartment with the intent to rob and kill him,” Davis said.
Malcom Reaves told Houston County Circuit Judge Kevin Moulton that the family was devastated by his brother’s death. He added that Davis “never showed remorse during his trial.”
“It seemed like he didn’t care,” said Reaves.
The victim’s family said the decade they spent waiting for justice was difficult on them.
Davis’ latest lawyer had sought to get the charge dismissed because of the unusual delay, saying Davis’ constitutional right to a speedy trial had been violated. Experts called a 10-year delay shocking, since a long wait takes a toll on prisoners, witnesses and victims’ families.
Prosecutors and defense teams sparred in pretrial filings over who was responsible.
Davis’ lawyer said the first judge improperly allowed Davis to be represented for four years by a defense lawyer whose son was the police investigator in the case. Prosecutors say Davis later contributed to the delay by firing a replacement attorney who had been appointed by the court after several years on the case.
Davis’ mother, Chrycynthia Ward Davis, told The Associated Press that her son dismissed the replacement lawyer because he was not communicating with her son and they were frustrated by the postponements he requested.