Thursday, August 15, 2013

Blues For Phyllis Davis, Part III

We've come to the end of a long, sorry road in this case, so I thought I'd post this picture of Phyllis Davis so as to remind my readers what this was all about-the death of an innocent woman of no great pretentions, with nothing more important in mind the day she died than getting home from work and putting her feet up and turning on the television.

All that changed in an instant as a rolling gun battle between the city's crip and blood factions (capitalization deliberately omitted) ended with the death of Davis. She drove into the midst of a group of urban gangster wannabes, caught a stray slug, and bled to death in her car at the intersection of 9th and University in broad daylight.

We have written about this before in 2009, describing the multiplicity of prosecutions and convictions that came out of this. The occupants of the brown Oldsmobile could not properly argue that they were not there because they were, and they were caught and convicted fair and square.

David Flores was convicted of murder and sentenced to a life term, but as occasionally happens, memories fade and new synthetic memories are created that sometimes are enough to convince a judge somewhere to order a new trial-and that's what happened here. We've heard of false memory syndrome, and people, when subject to enough arm twisting, often recollect things that did not, in fact, occur. And, of course, if you repeat a lie often enough it becomes the functional equivalent of truth.

Flores' original attorney-who did a poor job of defending him the first time, is conveniently dead and could not be called on the carpet for his mishandling of the case. The credulous judge, Don Nickerson, has since retired.  The lawyer who got the ball rolling for Flores, Mary Kennedy, has had three reprimands and six suspensions to her discredit. People unassociated with the case suddenly remembered things they'd never thought of before, twelve years later. The alleged shooter was very  conveniently dead, and we have no reason to think he did the foul deed except the offhanded remarks of a jailbird which, allegedly were not disclosed to the defense. That was enough to earn Mr. Innocence the possibility of a new trial.

I was looking forward to getting my sack lunch and sitting in on the trial, but as it happens-you guessed it-Mr. Innocence copped a plea.

Oh, I know, I know, it was an Alford plea,  but that is in truth a mere fig leaf for a defendant to hide his nakedness.

In exchange for Flores' plea to terrorism, attempted murder and manslaughter, he was sentenced to a term that got him out of jail. Part of the agreement was that Flores would not be prosecuted for his alleged participation in a home invasion robbery while out on bond. He's also currently being prosecuted for heaving rocks at some neighbor's car. A grand fellow, all things being equal.

At sentencing, Judge Gamble did not join in the Flores Love fest and group hug. Here's an excerpt from the Register:

“I understand the way you feel about me but I’m not a bad person,” Flores, now 36, said in court Thursday to the Davis family during the sentencing hearing.

He then began to sob: “I may have had a bad childhood and I may have made some bad decisions when I was young, but I’m not a killer.”

During Flores’ statement, he mentioned that he spent all of his 20s and half of his 30s to prison and that he was ready to choose freedom.

That statement was rebuked by Polk County Judge Arthur Gamble, who told Flores that he had pleaded guilty to “a serious, heinous, violent, criminal offense.” Gamble sentenced Flores to 35 years, the maximum prison sentence that he could impose under the law.

“Now you may claim you lost your 20s, your teens and your 30s. Phyllis Davis lost her life,” Gamble said. “We may never know for a certainty what occurred that day but we do know that you appeared before this court two days ago and you entered a plea of guilty.”

That's a good summary of the proceedings.

He says now that he feels sorry he took the plea, and wants to move out of the area. That might be the first useful thing he's done with his life.

A Note to my readers. I've neglected this blog for some time now but I intend to pay more attention to the things that matter here. Stay tuned.