Why there’s reason to think Jeramie Davis may be innocent
When a judge sentenced him to 40 years in prison for the murder of an adult bookstore owner, Jeramie Davis protested.
“Today I hold my head up and contain my anger as to this situation and keep my integrity,” Davis said, according to court records, “For I know I will be here again with perhaps the same circumstances, but surely a different outcome.”
Davis was wrong, in a way, because circumstances have indeed changed. DNA evidence found on a baseball bat used to bludgeon the bookstore owner in June 2007 turned up no matches at the time of the trial. But when police ran the DNA a few years later, they got a hit: Julio Davila. And earlier this month, a jury convicted Davila of the murder.
“There is no justice in Jeramie Davis continuing to serve a 40-year prison sentence for murder, when the state has acknowledged he was not the assailant and recently convicted another man for this crime,” says Anna Tolin, Davis’s lawyer and a supervising attorney for the Innocence Project Northwest Clinic.
Davis, through Tolin, declined to speak with The Inlander. But state prosecutors have not yet given up on keeping Davis in prison for murder.
“We are opposing the motion for the new trial,” says Dale Nagy, deputy prosecuting attorney with the state. Nagy declined to comment on the specifics since the case is ongoing.
According to court records, prosecutors are protesting statements made by a police officer who indicated that, in the wake of the new DNA evidence, Davis may be innocent.
A court hearing is scheduled for today (Thursday) to determine whether Davis will get a new trial.
According to Davis’s motion seeking that trial, this is what happened on that night in 2007: He entered Best Buy Books, a porno store on East Sprague. The owner, 74-year-old John Allen, lay on his back behind the counter. Because porno magazines were strewn on the floor with Allen, Davis says he thought Allen might have been drinking and dozed off after masturbating.
Davis proceeded to loot the store. Davis brought his sister to the store early the next morning after telling her about Allen’s condition, according to his account. She was a nurse; she knew immediately something was wrong. They called 911.
The bat used to bludgeon Allen’s head, it turned out, had been lying beneath the man. The store’s cash register was later found in Allen’s abandoned truck.
When a jury convicted Davis of murder the following year, they knew the baseball bat carried someone else’s DNA. But that DNA was never identified, until it was retested and matched Davila’s.