NEW YORK — A Brooklyn man’s 2006 murder conviction was overturned after he spent nearly 17 years in prison.
James Davis was in prison for the 2004 death of Blake Harper, who was shot and killed at a party in a Masonic Lodge in Brooklyn.
Though Davis, who was 21 at the time, admitted he was at the party, he said got sick and left prior to the shooting. However, police focused on Davis as the suspect after a woman, who wasn’t at the party, identified him as the shooter.
That woman has since died. Davis’s attorneys said before her death, she admitted she only implicated Davis because she was in love with him, but he was dating another woman.
Three other witnesses initially picked Davis out of a lineup, but an attorney with Legal Aid insisted “there is a fairly strong resemblance we believe between our client and the real shooter.”
Davis’ new Legal Aid Society lawyers found that his trial attorney was ineffective for failing to interview numerous witnesses who would have supported his claims of innocence.
Mr. Davis had provided this account of his innocence to police immediately upon his arrest and promptly furnished his attorney with the names of the witnesses who would corroborate it. The attorney, however, failed entirely to act, the Legal Aid Society said.
“James Davis has spent nearly 17 years imprisoned for a crime he didn’t commit, convicted without any physical evidence linking him to the crime and despite multiple witnesses corroborating his innocence,” said Elizabeth Felber, Director of the Wrongful Conviction Unit at The Legal Aid Society. “We applaud this decision from the Second Department which rightly vacates this wrongful conviction against James, and orders a new trial. We call on the Kings County District Attorney to deliver our client justice by declining to prosecute James any further and dismissing the case in its entirety.”
PIX11 News’ Ayana Harry spoke to the Legal Aid Society in 2018 as they fought to exonerate his murder conviction.
A new trial has been ordered for Davis following the conviction overturn.