Spokane, WA -- After serving nearly six years of a 40-year sentence for a crime he did not commit, Innocence Project Northwest client Jeramie Davis returned home to his family today, cleared of a 2008 murder conviction in Spokane County.
Judge Gregory Sypolt wished Mr. Davis good luck as he ordered him freed this morning following a 45-minute hearing in Spokane County Superior Court. Mr. Davis pleaded guilty to a second-degree robbery charge as part of the resolution to his case.
Mr. Davis, 42, was grateful to be free and eager to be reunited with his 5-year-old son, who was born after Mr. Davis was arrested in 2007.
“I’m so appreciative to everyone who believed in and fought for me,” said Mr. Davis who relied on his faith while in prison, “I never lost hope that I would one day be free.”
A jury found Mr. Davis guilty of the June 2007 beating death of porn shop owner John Allen. Mr. Davis acknowledged taking items from the store later that night — and in fact alerted authorities after discovering Mr. Allen was injured — but he denied any involvement in Mr. Allen’s murder.
In 2011, Spokane police detective Tim Madsen requested that DNA evidence from a previously unidentified individual collected at the crime scene be uploaded into the Combined DNA Index System (CODIS). The inquiry revealed DNA on the baseball bat used in Mr. Allen’s beating and in the victim’s stolen vehicle matched another man, Julio Davila.
The Spokane County Prosecutor then charged Davila, who was convicted of Allen’s murder on July 13, 2012. Meanwhile, Mr. Davis remained in prison serving a 40-year sentence for the same murder.
The Innocence Project Northwest (IPNW), based at the University of Washington School of Law, began reviewing Mr. Davis’ case in 2011. Over the prosecutor’s objection, IPNW convinced Judge Sypolt to grant Mr. Davis a new trial on the murder charge on July 26, 2012. Kevin Curtis of the Winston & Cashatt law firm and IPNW Deputy Director Anna Tolin agreed to represent Mr. Davis at the new trial.
This week, the parties reached a settlement that resulted in dismissal of the murder charge. Mr. Davis entered a plea to the robbery charge and Judge Sypolt ordered his immediate release.
“Today’s resolution gives Mr. Davis a fresh start at life, and represents a victory for justice in our community,” said Curtis. “Jeramie’s story is a sobering reminder of the dangers of jumping too quickly to conclusions, particularly when a person’s life is at stake. I am inspired by Jeramie’s persistence and patience over the years, and I am proud and thankful for all the hard work of many that helped reveal Jeramie’s innocence.”
At today’s hearing, Mr. Curtis credited the work of detectives Madsen and Hill for continuing to investigate new leads in the Allen case even after Mr. Davis’s conviction. This ultimately led to the identity of the true perpetrator in Julio Davila.
A lengthy police investigation revealed no connection between Davila and Mr. Davis.
“This case is an example of the tremendous uphill battle faced by individuals attempting to overturn a wrongful conviction,” said IPNW attorney Anna Tolin.
“Mr. Davis would not be free today if it weren’t for the hard-fought efforts many dedicated individuals, including UW law students Alice Jones and Brian Ferrasci-O’Malley, IPNW paralegal Laura Fox, along with Kevin Curtis and his team at Winston & Cashatt.”
Mr. Davis expressed deep appreciation to his family for their ongoing support and all of the individuals who worked on his case. “Now I look forward to getting to know my son,” he said.
The Innocence Project Northwest works to free the wrongly convicted in Washington State and effect policy reform to prevent wrongful convictions in our criminal justice system. Additional information can be found at www.ipnw.org.
We request all media inquiries be directed through counsel to honor Mr. Davis’ privacy as he reunites with his family.