Nick Bagley

Baltimore City, Maryland
Date of Alleged Crime:  November 28, 1961

Nick Donald Bagley was convicted of the murder of Donald J. Davis. Davis operated a retail meat store on Falls Road in Baltimore City. Around 7 a.m. one morning, he was found in his store lying in a pool of blood with a gunshot wound to his head. A revolver belonging to Davis was on the floor close to and pointing toward the left side of his head. He died four days later. The medical examiner reported that his findings indicated a typical self-inflicted wound.

Less than 20 minutes before Davis was found dead, he had called the sales manager for a meat wholesaler, spoke his name and then said “someone is knocking at the door” and “I think I have an early customer.” After a pause of a few seconds, Davis returned to the telephone and gave the sales manager his order then hung up without further comment. At the scene, besides the revolver, there was found a one-dollar bill, approximately $28 in change in a paper bag and $11 in change in a desk drawer. At trial, an employee testified that the Davis had left $100 in the cash register the night before, but Davis's wife testified that her husband usually took money with him each morning for operating funds. His gold watch and wallet were found on a desk and there was no evidence that any money had been taken from the wallet. Other than a butcher knife, a cigar and some stamps on the floor and the telephone receiver dangling from the hook, there were no signs that a struggle had taken place.

Three months after the shooting, Bagley, a black man, confessed to murdering Davis, but only after a week of police interrogation. At trial five witnesses testified that he was in North Carolina, not Maryland, during the entire week in which the murder was committed, if it was a murder. A first trial resulted in a hung jury; at a second, he was convicted by an all-white jury solely because he had confessed to the alleged crime. After serving 11 years of a life sentence, Bagley walked away from a work release center in Nov. 1972 and went to New York City. Three months later he was arrested in New York as a fugitive. However, through the intervention of New York authorities, Maryland agreed by 1975 to drop the extradition request and the escape charges against Bagley.

In 1986, while visiting California, Bagley was arrested on an outstanding warrant from New Jersey for failure to appear in court. Bagley contended the warrant was for his look-alike brother. However, after his arrest, a 1972 Maryland warrant was discovered that should have been recalled. On the advice of a public defender, Bagley unwisely waived extradition and ended up in Maryland serving the remainder of his life sentence that was thought to be forever in the past. The Maryland Parole Board rejected a request to commute Bagley's sentence. No information could be found on subsequent events, but Bagley's sentence carried a 15-year minimum of which he had served 13. The Center on Wrongful Convictions lists Bagley as an exonerated person.  [3/09]


References:  Bagley v. State, NY Times

Posted in:  Victims of the State, Maryland Cases, Homicides That Are Possible Suicides