Victims of the State

Westchester County, NY

Charles Dabbs

Aug 12, 1982

Charles Dabbs was sentenced to life in prison for rape after being identified by the victim. DNA tests exonerated him in 1991.  (IP) (CBJ) (CM)  [5/05]

Harlan County, KY 

Condy Dabney

Aug 23, 1925 (Coxton)

Condy Dabney was convicted of murdering Mary Vickery, 14, and sentenced to life imprisonment. Vickery had disappeared on Aug. 23, 1925. A month later a girl's body was found nearby in an abandoned mine shaft. After Mary's father had posted a $500 reward for information, a woman named Marie Jackson came forward and claimed to have witnessed Dabney murder Vickery.

The prosecution's case against Dabney was weak. The found body was too decayed to be dead only a month and witnesses disputed Jackson's whereabouts on the day of the alleged murder. Still Dabney was convicted. Twelve months after Dabney's conviction, a police officer in Williamsburg, KY, 85 miles away, happened to notice the name Mary Vickery on a hotel register. Because the name seemed familiar, he spoke with her and realized that she was the person Dabney was convicted of murdering. Mary said she ran away because she was not getting along with her stepmother. Dabney was released and Jackson was convicted of perjury. The found body was never identified.  (CWC) (CTI)  [10/05]

Wayne County, NC 

Dwayne Dail

Sept 4, 1987

Dwayne Allen Dail was convicted in 1989 of entering a Goldsboro home and raping a 12-year-old girl who lived there. The girl initially described her assailant as having shoulder-length light brown hair and a beard. Dail and others later testified that at the time of the attack his hair was bleached and cut in a “Billy Idol” style, and that he was incapable of growing anything more than patchy facial hair. Nevertheless, the girl identified Dail as her assailant and an expert testified that hairs found at the crime scene were microscopically consistent with those of Dail. Dail reportedly turned down an offer to plead guilty in exchange for three years of probation. A jury sentenced him to two life terms plus 15 years. In 2007, DNA tests proved that Dail was not the girl's assailant, and he was released and pardoned.  (IP) (News-Argus)  [10/07]

Hampden County, MA 

Daley & Halligan

Nov 9, 1805 (Wilbraham)

While traveling from Boston to New York, Dominic Daley, 34, and James Halligan, 27, both Irish immigrants, were arrested on Nov. 12, 1805 for the murder of farmer Marcus Lyon. Lyon's horse was found wandering three days earlier and his murdered body was found two days earlier in Wilbraham. Wilbraham was then located in Hampshire County. The defendants were incarcerated in Northampton while their captor received a $500 reward.

At trial, the main evidence against the defendants was the testimony of 13-year-old Laertes Fuller who said he saw the pair on the road, then saw them again minutes later with the victim's horse. It is not clear why the defendants would have the victim's horse as the horse was later seen wandering around freely. Legally, witnesses were required to be 14 years old to testify, but the judge overrode this rule in Fuller's case. Fuller's testimony suggested the defendants killed Lyon during the interval between his sightings of the defendants. However, Lyon had been shot and, when questioned, Fuller reported he did not hear a gunshot, even though he could not have been very far from the murder.

There appears to be reasonable doubt as to the guilt of the defendants because: (1) Fuller was at best marginally qualified to testify. (2) The details of his testimony contained nothing that compelled one to believe its accuracy. (3) The reward offered created an incentive for perjury. (4) Even if Fuller's testimony was true, it did not definitively establish that the defendants had murdered Lyon. Besides the lack of credible prosecution evidence, there was a lack of due process because the defendants were not allowed to testify in their own defense and were only assigned a lawyer two days before trial.

The defendants were convicted and sentenced to death. Both were hanged on June 5, 1806 in Northampton before a crowd of 15,000. It was alleged and widely accepted in the 20th century that Daley and Halligan were framed and convicted because they were Irish Catholics, but historical records do not support any overt prejudice. In 1984, Gov. Dukakis issued a proclamation exonerating the two. A 2005 book about the case was published entitled The Garden of Martyrs by Michael C. White.  (CIPM) (Resources)  [11/09]

 England (Leeds CC)

Mark Dallagher

May 7, 1996

Mark Dallagher was convicted of the murder of 94-year-old Dorothy Wood. Wood was found dead at her home on Whitby Avenue in Huddersfield. She had been smothered with a pillow. A burglar had entered the home through a transom window above her bed. Wood was profoundly deaf and slept downstairs because of a heart condition.

Ear prints were found on the glass immediately below the transom. West Yorkshire police sent these prints along with prints of Dallagher's ears to Cornelis Van der Lugt, an alleged ear print expert. Police suspected Dallagher might be the culprit because he was a small-time burglar who lived in the area. Van der Lugt was Dutch police officer for 27 years and a lecturer at the Dutch Police College. He had no formal qualifications, but he had become interested in ear print identification and read what was available on that topic. He had built up a portfolio of about 600 photographs and 300 ear prints.

At trial, Van der Lugt testified that he was “absolutely convinced that the prints of [Dallagher's] left ear were identical with the prints of the left ear on the window.” Another Crown expert, Peter Vanezis, considered Van der Lugt to be the ear print expert in the world, and testified that “it was very likely that it was this defendant who made those prints,” although he could not be one hundred percent certain. Vanezis was Regius Professor of Forensic Medicine and Science at the University of Glasgow.

Following Dallagher's conviction, two other criminal convictions that relied on ear print evidence were overturned, one in the U.S. (David Kunze), and another in the Netherlands. Both relied on Van der Lugt's testimony. In 2002, an appeals court also overturned Dallagher's conviction because it found fault with the manner in which the experts expressed their opinion of Dallagher's guilt. Following the reversal, an initial report given by Van der Lugt surfaced in which he stated that the ear prints found on Wood's window were definitely not those of Dallagher. The words “definitely not” were underlined twice.

A retrial for Dallagher began in 2003, but it was halted after 10 days as the prosecution sought to gather additional evidence. However, additional evidence was not forthcoming and DNA tests of the ear prints showed they did not belong to Dallagher. As a result, charges against Dallagher were dropped in 2004. He was released from imprisonment after serving seven years of a life sentence.  (Innocent) (Forensic-Evidence)  [11/09]

 Newfoundland, Canada

Ronald Dalton

Aug 16, 1988 (Gander)

Ronald Dalton was convicted of the strangulation murder his wife Brenda. Dalton got a retrial because forensic evidence indicated that Brenda choked to death on dry cereal. At his retrial in 2000, Dalton was acquitted.  (IB) (FJDB)  [1/07]

Michael Damien - See DC Three

Sutter County, CA

Robert Dana

Apr 19, 1976

Robert Dana was convicted of murdering his friend Herschel “Gene” Koller and his friend's girlfriend, Elaine Matte. There was no confession, no blood evidence, no witnesses, inconclusive ballistics, and inconclusive gun shot residue testing. The case is one of insufficient evidence.  (JD)  [9/05]

Matthew Daniels - See New Baltimore Three

Travis County, TX 

Danziger & Ochoa

Nov 24, 1988 (Austin)

Richard Danziger and Christopher Ochoa were roommates who worked at an Austin Pizza Hut. While visiting another Austin Pizza Hut they raised suspicions when they asked employees questions about the murder of a manager there. The manager was twenty-year-old Nancy Depriest who was raped and killed at that location two weeks before. The two were brought in for police questioning and under coercion Ochoa confessed first to the rape and then only to the murder of DePriest. In order to avoid the death penalty he agreed to testify against Danziger for the other crime. Both men were convicted and given life sentences.

Eight years later another prisoner, Achim Marino, serving three life sentences, began writing letters to police, the DA, Gov. Bush, a newspaper, and the ACLU, confessing to the rape and murder of DePriest. He said he did not know Ochoa or Danziger or why anyone would confess to a crime he had committed. Marino had apparently undergone a religious conversion while attending AA/NA and felt obliged to confess his responsibility for the DePriest murder. Although Marino exhibited detailed knowledge of the crime, the letters had little effect. Austin Police did go to interview Ochoa, but he continued to profess guilt. Later he explained that he feared claiming innocence would hurt his chance for parole.

Three years afterward Ochoa reconsidered and contacted the Wisconsin Innocence Project. After DNA tests were done, both he and Danziger were exonerated and released. The tests also confirmed that Marino was the perpetrator. While in prison, Danziger was severely beaten by another prisoner and suffered severe brain damage that incapacitated him for life. Danziger and Ochoa were awarded $9 million and $5.3 million respectively in 2003 for 13 years of wrongful imprisonment.  (IP1) (IP2) (CWC1) (CWC2) (Frontline)  [9/05]

Norfolk, VA

Willie Davidson

Nov 27, 1980

Willie Davidson was convicted of raping, sodomizing, and robbing a 66-year-old woman. The assailant had worn a stocking mask over his face, a cap, gloves, and a coat. The victim had known Davidson and his family most of her life. Davidson and his family had moved away years before, but they had stopped to visit the victim the day before the attack. Police put a stocking on Davidson's head and asked the victim if he looked like her attacker. She responded affirmatively. Davidson said that he was at home sleeping while the crime was being committed. His family members supported his alibi at trial. Davidson served almost 13 years of imprisonment.

A crime lab analyst, Mary Jane Burton, had, against the rules, saved specimens of biological evidence of the cases she worked on. Evidence saved by Burton had already helped exonerate three convicts. In 2004, DNA tests were ordered on a random 10% of her approximately 310 specimens, resulting in the exonerations of Davidson and Phillip Leon Thurman. Gov. Warner pardoned both in Dec. 2005.  (IP)  [12/05]

Benson Davis - See New York Boys

Travis County, TX 

Billy Gene Davis

Aug 8, 1990

After twice failing a polygraph exam, Billy Gene Davis confessed to killing his ex-girlfriend, Michelle Bagley. Bagley disappeared on Aug. 8, 1990. Davis said he left her body in a northeast Travis County field, but he could not remember exactly where. Ten days after she went missing, Bagley later turned up alive in Tucson, AZ.

Charlie Davis - See Pompano Boys

 Palm Beach County, FL

Cody Davis

Feb 27, 2006

Cody Davis was convicted of robbing Foster's Too, a bar in West Palm Beach. Following the robbery, two witnesses identified Davis from a photo lineup, although one witness remembered the robber had a tattoo on his hand, which Davis did not have. Police found a ski mask outside the bar, but it was not considered evidence because the robber did not wear a ski mask. Nevertheless, DNA testing was performed on the mask. Four months after Davis's conviction, the results came back and matched a man named Jeremy Prichard who had a distinctive tattoo on his hand similar to the one the eyewitness recalled. When investigators questioned Prichard, he confessed to committing the Foster's Too robbery as well as three other bar robberies. Davis was released in early 2007.  (IP)  [7/07]

Kanawha County, WV

Gerald & Dewey Davis

Feb 18, 1986

Gerald Wayne Davis was convicted of kidnapping and sexual assault. His father Dewey Davis was convicted of similar charges for being present and doing nothing to stop the alleged crimes. Forensic testing involved police lab technician Fred Zain, who had given discredited testimony in other cases. The alleged victim fabricated the charges, as DNA testing exonerated Gerald Davis and his father in 1995.  (IP1) (IP2) (CBJ)  [5/05]

St. Clair County, IL 

Girvies Davis

Dec 22, 1978 (Belleville)

Girvies L. Davis, a black man, was convicted by an all white jury of the murder of Charles Biebel, 89. Davis allegedly confessed to the crime and was sentenced to death. There was no physical evidence or eyewitness testimony linking him to the murder. Davis, a 4th grade dropout, has been described as retarded and quite slow intellectually. After several days of questioning while in police custody, officers allege that Davis sent them a note from his cell stating that he wished to confess to a number of crimes. Subsequently, in the middle of the night, police took him out of his cell, and took him for an automobile ride. Two officers drove him around for hours before stopping and pulling out a briefcase from the trunk of the car. Davis said the officers placed some papers on the hood of the car, took off their gun belts, and told him he could either sign the papers or run.

“I signed everything they had,” Davis said. “I was fearful for my life. If they would have had more there, I would have signed more. I found out later I had signed statements for 10 murders and 10 attempted murders and my Miranda rights.” When asked if he had read the papers before signing, Davis said, “Naw, I couldn't even read back then. I could barely sign my name.”

The St. Clair County State's Attorney, Robert Haida, conceded that some of the confessions were false as other people were convicted of those crimes. Davis denied ever sending a note from his cell or seeing it before trial. Haida conceded that someone else wrote the note, but suggested Davis dictated it to a cellmate. While on death row, Davis learned to read and write. He earned a high school equivalency certificate and became an ordained minister. He spent much of his time reading the Bible. A former police chief, a former prosecutor, and a retired judge worked to stop Davis's execution, but Davis was executed by lethal injection on May 17, 1995.  (NY Times)  [1/07]

Glenn Davis - See Berry Innocents

Allegheny County, PA

Hosea Davis

Sept 16, 2001 (East Liberty)

Hosea Davis was convicted of the murder of Tommy Paige. Paige had died from a puncture wound, that Davis maintains he did not inflict. The key prosecution witness testified that Davis stabbed Paige. On cross-examination, Davis's lawyer got her to say, “I think that [Paige] was really, really asking for it that night.” The lawyer then refused to call several witnesses willing to testify that Davis could not have stabbed Paige, and relied instead on a self-defense strategy. The strategy failed, but since the conviction, the key witness has recanted.  (Innocence Institute)

Comal County, TX 

Jack Davis

Nov 17, 1989

Jack Warren Davis was convicted of the sexual assault, mutilation, and murder of Kathie Campolo Balonis, 24. Balonis's body was found in her apartment at the Oaks complex on Landa Street in New Braunfels. Davis lived and worked at the apartment complex as a maintenance man. The conviction was based on the forensic testimony of Fred Zain. Zain testified that some blood found under Balonis's body came from Davis. In a 1992 evidentiary hearing to examine prosecutorial misconduct in Davis's case, Zain changed his testimony and acknowledged that the blood came from the victim. Davis's conviction was vacated and he was released in 1992. Davis later received a $600,000 settlement from Bexar County.  [7/05]

Larry W. Davis - See Northrop & Davis

Kane County, IL 

Lavelle Davis

Dec 18, 1993 (Elgin)

Lavelle L. Davis was convicted of murdering Patrick “Pall Mall” Ferguson. Ferguson was killed outside an Elgin apartment complex with a single shotgun blast at close range. Davis's first trial ended in a mistrial after a key eyewitness said she was backing off testimony she gave at the earlier trial of a co-defendant. At Davis's second trial, the woman said she was finally coming forward with the truth – that she saw him shoot Ferguson. Even Prosecutor Alice Tracy called the woman “an admitted liar” during the second trial. A crime lab examiner, Stephen McKasson, testified that Davis's lips matched lip prints left on duct tape found near the scene of the slaying. The prosecution theorized that Davis left his lip prints on the sticky side of the tape while demonstrating to others what he was going to do if Ferguson started to scream.

For some jurors in Davis's trial, including Doris Gonzalez, the lip print evidence was convincing--much more than the witnesses called by both sides who she said “were not very truthful people.” However, following conviction, other forensic experts of weighed in. Andre Moenssens, the author of a book on forensics said the use of lip print evidence amounted to “pure speculation and unadulterated conjecture.” Ronald Singer, the president of the AAFS, the nations chief forensic society said, “At this stage of the game, you can put ear prints and lip prints and nose prints and elbow prints all in the same category – unverified and unvalidated.” In Mar. 2006, Davis's conviction was overturned and he was granted a new trial. Charges against Davis were dropped in 2009.  (Chicago Tribune) (Forensic-Evidence)  [3/08]

Greenbrier County, WV 

Marybeth Davis


Marybeth Davis was convicted of the attempted murder of her son and the murder of her daughter. In Sept 1981, Davis's two-month old son Seth went into convulsions and ended up in a permanent vegetative state. Six months later Davis's daughter Megan went into convulsions and died. Following these incidents, police launched an investigation, but concluded there was not enough evidence of foul play to charge Davis with any crime.

In 1995, Davis's case was reopened by State Trooper Michael Spradlin as part of a task force committed to solving cold cases. The following year, prosecutor Mark Burnette took the case to trial, stating “the medical evidence was overwhelming.” The prosecution claimed Davis injected Seth with insulin and poisoned Megan with caffeine. It also presented Dr. Basil Zitelli to give his expert opinion that Davis committed the alleged crimes because she suffered from Münchausen Syndrome by Proxy.

Münchausen Syndrome is an alleged psychological disorder in which one feigns, exaggerates, or creates symptoms of illness in oneself in order to gain the sympathy or attention of others. Münchausen Syndrome by Proxy is similar except that one purportedly feigns, exaggerates, or creates symptoms of illness in another person, such as a child, in order to gain sympathy.

Following Davis's conviction, Münchausen Syndrome by Proxy was debunked by many experts in psychology. Courts in England and Australia have prohibited medical experts from testifying that anyone has MSBP after ruling the syndrome is merely descriptive and not a psychiatrically identifiable illness or condition.

Advanced testing showed that Seth's illness was related to a human growth hormone deficiency and other evidence showed that that Megan died from from a rare condition known as Reye's Syndrome. In 2007 Davis was released from prison after agreeing to a plea deal, that gave her a time served sentence.  (Justice)  [11/09]

Berrien County, MI 

Mickey Davis

Oct 6, 1995 (Benton Harbor)

Mickey Lee Davis was convicted of murder for allegedly shooting to death his wife, Priscilla, in her parent's home. Priscilla's Certificate of Death stated that she died at 7:15 p.m. in Benton Harbor, but cell phone records indicate that at 7:01 p.m., Davis made a two-minute phone call from Paw Paw, 27 miles away.

Prior to trial, the state's key witness, Melissa Peters, recanted her statements against Davis at a court hearing. She said, “Mickey Davis over there had nothing to do with this. Okay? I'm sorry, everything that I have said has not been the truth. I have to now say everything that has happened. Every one of my statements needs to be removed. They are not true.” Upon hearing this recantation, the prosecution stopped the hearing, despite defense objections, and asked for a continuance. It received a continuance and at later hearings, including Davis's trial, Peters resumed her original testimony. Peters, who was known to be 17-years-old six months before the murder, also testified she had never previously been in trouble, never been arrested, or convicted of any crime. The prosecution withheld evidence from the defense that she had a criminal history in several states as a juvenile.  (MLDS) (JD)  [3/07]

Coosa County, AL

Tim Davis

July 20, 1978

Timothy Charles Davis came across the murdered body of Avis F. Alford in 1978. When he checked to see if victim was alive, he splashed blood on the legs of his jeans which resulted in his conviction for murder. Davis was sentenced to death as a juvenile, but his sentence was commuted to life imprisonment after the U.S. Supreme Court abolished the death penalty for juveniles. A book about Davis and his case entitled A Forgotten Man is (as of Feb. 2011) expected to be published soon.  (TCD) (Davis v. State)  [3/05]

Chatham County, GA

Troy Davis

Aug 19, 1989 (Savannah)

Troy Anthony Davis, a black man, was sentenced to death for the shooting murder of Mark Allen MacPhail, a white police officer. At the time MacPhail, 27, was working off-duty as a security guard for a Greyhound bus station. A homeless man, Larry Young, was being harassed by an assailant for the can of beer that Young held in a paper sack. A crowd of bystanders, some of whom spilled out a pool hall, followed the fight as it progressed up Oglethorpe Ave. toward the bus station. The assailant then pulled a pistol out of his pants and used it beat Young on the head. Fearing for his life Young yelled for someone to call the police, and Officer MacPhail responded. He was shot twice and died.

At trial Young identified Davis as the man who both assaulted him and murdered MacPhail. Young has since recanted. “After I was assaulted that night … some police officers grabbed me and threw me down on the hood of the police car and handcuffed me. They treated me like a criminal; like I was the one who killed the officer … They made it clear that we weren't leaving until I told them what they wanted to hear. They suggested answers and I would give them what they wanted. They put typed papers in my face and told me to sign them. I did sign them without reading them.”

There was no physical evidence against Davis and the murder weapon has never been found. The case against him depended entirely on the testimony of nine prosecution witnesses. Since the trial seven of the nine witnesses, including Young, have recanted their testimony. Many of the witnesses cited police pressure as the reason for their false trial testimony.

Davis said he was one of the bystanders who came out of the pool hall and watched the assailant torment Young. He stated he left after the assailant threatened to shoot Young and he never looked back. He also stated he did not have a gun and that the assailant was one of the remaining prosecution witnesses, Sylvester Coles. Coles was known as a neighborhood bully. Davis's appeals lawyers could not locate the other remaining witness. Davis was executed by lethal injection on September 21, 2011.  (  [7/07]

 Australia (QLD)

Raymond Paul Davy

Dec 2003

Raymond Paul Davy was convicted of murdering 73-year-old Donald Rogers. Three months after Rogers went missing, Davy led police to his remains in Beerburrum State Forest. The Crown alleged Davy withheld Rogers' diabetes medicine to extract his credit card PIN number before dumping his body, burning his car, and spending $30,000 from his account. Davy, a heroin addict, admitted stealing Rogers' money, but always maintained he did not kill him. An appeals court later quashed Davy's murder conviction because it found the possibility that Rogers died by natural causes was not excluded beyond a reasonable doubt.  (Archives)

Allegheny County, PA

Michael Day

Aug 10, 1994

Michael Day was convicted of the rape and murder of his three-year-old daughter, Tequyla Pierce Day. On the night of her death, Michael’s wife, DeAnndra Day, called 911 and reported that she found Tequyla face down in the bathtub. She was not breathing. When paramedics arrived they found Michael, wrapped in a bedsheet at the waist, incorrectly attempting to perform CPR on Tequyla. Michael’s naked body was exposed when the sheet was taken to wipe vomit from Tequyla’s face. Michael said he had genital herpes and had not been wearing underwear to speed up the healing process. The initial autopsy report, completed by forensic pathologist Dr. Shakir, said that Tequyla died as a result of severe brain edema due to meningitis with drowning as a contributory cause.
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 San Diego County, CA

Frederick Daye

Jan 10, 1984

Frederick Rene “Ricky” Daye was convicted, along with another man, of kidnapping a woman, raping her, and stealing her car. The victim and a bystander identified Daye. The victim initially said one of her assailants had a gold cap on his left front tooth. Daye had a silver cap on his right front tooth. There was a progression in the victim's identification. In the photo lineup, she said, “That looks like the guy”; in the physical lineup, she said, “I think that's the one.” But then in front of the jury, she burst into tears and said, “That's him! I'll never forget that face!” Daye had given a police officer a phony name, had a leaky alibi, and a prison record.

Daye's co-defendant, David Pringle, pleaded the Fifth Amendment when asked to identify Daye. Tests revealed that the semen evidence was consistent with Daye's blood type. Daye was sentenced to life imprisonment plus a term of years. In 1990, Pringle issued a statement saying Daye was not involved in the crime and that he did not even know Daye. DNA tests exonerated Daye in 1994 and implicated a man with a gold front tooth. However, the victim still maintains that Daye was the rapist. Since she has refused to come forward and to testify against the other man, he has never been charged. Daye's case was featured on PBS Frontline. He was awarded $389,000 ($100/day) for wrongful incarceration.  (IP) (CBJ) (Frontline) (News)  [8/07]

 Washington, DC

DC Three

Nov 1, 1974

Michael Damien, Joseph Nick Sousa, and Joseph Wayne Eastridge were convicted of the stabbing murder of Johnnie Battle. The crime occurred outside the Godfather Supper Club at 4934 Wisconsin Ave. NW on the night of Nov. 1, 1974. The three defendants had attended a birthday celebration for the president of the Pagan Motorcycle Club (PMC). It was Sousa and Eastridge's first PMC event. Following the event, a group of bikers got into a brief altercation with three black males. Two of the blacks returned, and one of them, Johnnie Battle, opened fire on the bikers, seriously wounding one. In response, several of the bikers chased down Battle and stabbed him to death. The three defendants came to the attention of police because they were unfamiliar with the area and had inadvertently circled the block. Police, arriving at the scene, stopped their car at a time when the other bikers had dispersed.

The convictions were based upon the testimony of Sousa's ex-girlfriend, Dorothy Willetts. Centurion Ministries tracked down witnesses and found the three were not involved. Damien and Sousa were paroled in 1995 and Eastridge was paroled in 2005. In a 2005 hearing, U.S. District Court Judge Rosemary Collyer exonerated the three. She declared, “The Court finds that this is the rare case in which petitioners can prove their actual innocence of the crime charged as well as violations of their constitutional rights at trial.”  (CM)  [2/07]