An Alabama man who maintains his innocence has spent a decade in jail awaiting trial bypassing, by years, his constitutionally guaranteed right to a speedy trial. Yet, the judge in the case says it is the defendant's fault he remains behind bars without having been adjudicated guilty.
Kharon Davis was one of three men in 2007, accused of participating in a drug-related robbery that ended in a fatal shooting. One co-defendant was acquitted in 2009. The other pleaded guilty in 2011 and is serving a 99-year prison sentence. Davis, who is accused of being the triggerman, was facing the death penalty until earlier this year when, without explanation, an attorney with the Alabama attorney general's office filed a notice with the court stating it will not seek the death penalty in the capital case.
The right to a speedy trial is part of the Sixth Amendment of the United States Constitution. The purpose of a speedy trial in a criminal case is three-fold. It allows the defendant to have his or her day in court in a timely fashion. It furthers “the interests of the public, including victims and witnesses, in the fair, accurate, and timely resolution of criminal cases.” And it ensures effective use of resources.
Each state has its own statute or provision limiting the time a person may be held awaiting trial. These limits for a timely resolution to criminal cases are generally weeks or months, depending on the seriousness of the crime and complexity of the case. However, a defendant may waive the right to a speedy trial in order to prepare a stronger defense or negotiate a plea deal for a lesser offense.
In June, Davis asked that his case is dismissed because of the state violated his right to a speedy trial. Unlike defendants in some recent studies who are jailed while awaiting trial because they are poor and unable to post bond or the municipality in which they are incarcerated lacks alternatives to jail for low-level, nonviolent offenders, Davis' long-term pretrial incarceration was of his own making, the judge claimed. Yet many of the delays were beyond the control of Davis, such as conflicts of interests by both the defense and prosecuting attorneys, changes in defense attorneys over 10 years, the resignation of a judge, the election of a new district attorney, and the discovery of new evidence.
Davis's current trial date is set for September. Even though he has spent years in jail accused of the crime, he remains innocent until proven guilty at trial.
Regardless of the circumstances, everyone deserves the best defense. If you have been arrested or are facing criminal charges, call the Seattle law office of Steve Karimi at (206) 621-8777 or contact him online.