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Friday, February 20, 2015

"It Wasn't Me!"

"It Wasn't Me!"
By Amanda Brigman, Intern
The Cochran Firm

If you saw Donya Davis today, you might think he is just a regular guy. You would not know he had seven years of his life stolen from him by the State of Michigan and the criminal justice system.  Davis was wrongfully accused of a crime he did not commit and sentenced to prison for 67 years. He had served seven years before the Innocence Project at Western Michigan University Cooley Law School was able to have his charges dismissed. 

The incident Donya Davis was tried and convicted of occurred on April 1, 2006, around 5 a.m. The victim was a twenty-three-year-old black female who was removing what personal belongings she had from her fire-damaged apartment.  A man ordered her to go back into her apartment while pointing a gun at her. The man robbed her of her vehicle and purse. When she told the gunman she did not have any money he forced her into the kitchen and raped her. The attacker then locked her in a basement pantry where she was able to escape and called police.  The victim gave a description of her attacker to the police. She said he had a dark complexion, was 5 feet 9 or 10 inches tall and had close-cropped hair. The victim could not remember if he had facial hair.

Through a police tip, a picture of 28 year-old, Donya Davis, was added to a photo line-up.  Davis had a medium complexion, was 6 feet 1 inch tall. He had a small Afro and a thin mustache. One would think his characteristics alone would be enough to distinguish him from the attacker, but they were not. The victim identified Davis as her attacker. A rape kit was performed on the victim after the attack. They found the presence of semen, but the only DNA profile identified at that time was that of the victim.

In March 2007, Davis was on trial charged with robbery and rape. Davis presented several witnesses to offer an alibi that he was at home asleep at the time of the incident. The prosecution only had the evidence of the victim claiming Donya Davis as the attacker.  The jury was unable to reach a unanimous verdict, and the case was declared a mistrial.

Later that same year in October, Davis went to trial again. This time his case would be presented to a judge – no jury.  Davis was convicted on October 11, 2007, of rape, armed robbery, carjacking and use of a firearm by a convicted felon. He was sentenced to 67 years in prison.

In March 2013, the Innocence Project at Western Michigan University Cooley Law School filed a motion that would require a DNA sample of Davis to be compared with that of the DNA found on the victim's inner thigh. The motion was granted, and there was no biological match to Davis.

On June 20, 2014, a defense motion on Davis' behalf was granted for a new trial. However, the Wayne County District Attorney's office dismissed all charges on November 6, 2014 citing insufficient evidence to proceed with the case.

Michigan unlike other states in the country does not have a compensation law requiring payment to those persons wrongfully convicted. Currently, Donya Davis, 36, is seeking employment. While he was incarcerated, he studied paralegal studies and is hoping to bring awareness to the problem of wrongful incarceration.

The contributing cause leading to the wrongful conviction of Donya Davis was the fact that the victim misidentified her attacker. Eyewitness misidentifications account for the greatest cause of wrongful convictions in the United States, according to The Innocence Project.  However, 75% of these convictions may be overturned via DNA testing.  Though TV shows like Law & Order and NCIS may make it seem as if DNA is left everywhere, the reality is DNA evidence is only present for testing in five to ten percent of all criminal cases. 

The Innocence Project works at exonerating those individuals like Donya Davis, who have been wrongfully convicted through DNA evidence.  They have programs across the nation and work with different law clinics and law firms in many communities. They also are a generous resource for education.  Some statistics about DNA evidence and exonerations:
·       20 people had been sentenced to death before DNA proved their innocence and led to their release
·       50% of those exonerated had the actual perpetrator identified through DNA testing
·       Average sentence served 13.6 years in prison
·       There have been 325 post-conviction DNA exonerations in the U.S., in 38 states and Washington D.C.

If you or a loved one has been charged with a crime, contact the experience Criminal Defense attorneys at The Cochran Firm and allow us to fight for your rights, reputation and freedom.

posted by The Cochran Firm at 3:06 PM

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The Cochran Firm handles Civil Litigation and Criminal Defense claims for clients throughout the United States of America. The information on this website does not constitute legal advice nor form an attorney-client relationship.Please contact The Cochran Firm today to schedule a free consultation.

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