Readers were angry when I reported that the prosecution in the Bundy Ranch case claimed that they could hold defendants for five years in jail before it would even be considered a violation of the protections of the Fifth Amendment that apply to rendering a speedy trial to an accused person. If that made you angry, I wonder what people think about an Alabama man who has been charged with murder but held in jail without a trial for a decade!
Kharon Davis was arrested in June 2007 for the murder of Pete Reaves at an apartment complex in Dothan, Alabama. He was arrested along with two other men in the shooting. He has never been given a trial.
On Tuesday, Houston County Circuit Judge Kevin Moulton heard arguments for dismissing the case because Davis was unfairly prejudiced by a potential conflict of interest connected to his case that was not resolved for four years.
“Davis’ attorney, Thomas Goggans of Montgomery, argued Tuesday Davis was initially represented by an attorney who had a conflict of interest,” The Dothan Eagle reports. “Ben Meredith represented Davis while his son, Frank, was a witness for the prosecution. The potential conflict was not raised on the record in court until 2011, shortly after Moulton began presiding over the case.”
“No one should go to court with an attorney who has a conflict of interest in that case. Mr. Davis has a right to a speedy trial,” Goggans argued.
However, Assistant Attorney General Kenneth Gibbs, who is prosecuting the case for Alabama, claims that Davis was aware of the conflict of interest and continued to have Meredith represent him.
“There was no concern with this issue from Davis or the former district attorney, Douglas Valeska,” Gibbs said. “Everyone felt Meredith would do his job in representing Davis. Everyone is overlooking the fact Meredith was retained by Davis to represent him after the fact. This case should not be dismissed.”
Yet, that doesn’t explain why it took four years to deal with that and why the man has been in jail for a decade!
“Davis did not receive a speedy trial. It took over four years for the conflict to be addressed and resolved,” Davis attorney Dustin Fowler told Judge Mouton. “This was not found or addressed until you came in sir.”
Judge Moulton then addressed both sides in the case.
“In the case records a motion for a speedy trial has not been filed,” Moulton said. “However, I do see where Judge Jackson filed three orders to have this case go to trial before he retired. I also see where Meredith only filed two motions while he was Davis’ attorney. He filed a motion for a preliminary hearing and a bond hearing. No further motions were filed on this case until Meredith was removed as appointed attorney. There has not been a lot of activity on this case except for Judge Jackson filing orders. During the first four years you are addressing, there were three attempts to have this case go to trial and eight times total.”
Judge Moulton is expected to rule at a later date.
Well, that’s great. That is all bound up in the first four years. What about the past six? There is no excuse for something like this taking place. Whether or not the man is found guilty is now a secondary issue to how the judicial system has handled the case. This seems to be such a violation of the right to a speedy trial.
Davis’ case if set to go to trial September 18, 2017.