A man has been behind bars for a decade. Circumstances have repeatedly delayed his trial. Now, he’s holding the state responsible and asking to be set free. However, whether the state is responsible for the delay comes down to the specifics of the case and reasons for push back.
A motion filed by attorney Thomas Goggans on behalf of this client Kharon Davis is asking a judge to remove a homicide charge due to violation of his constitutional right to a speedy trial, since he’s spent a decade in confinement. A Houston County, Alabama, hearing will be held on this week. The filing claims the court caused “over four years of down time” due to attorney conflicts. The issue began with Davis’ first attorney, Ben Meredith, whose son investigated the case. Meredith represented Davis at the preliminary hearing ten years ago. At this hearing, his son was one of the witnesses to testify. However, the conflict of interest issue wasn’t raised until four years later in October 2011.
Meredith said he could rightfully represent his client despite the fact that his son was an investigator on the case and, at the time, Davis said he didn’t mind. “I ask you, do you have issue with Mr. Meredith representing you and going forward in this matter knowing that there is the potential for that conflict?” Circuit Judge Kevin Moulton asked Davis. “Not at all, no sir,” Davis responded.
His mother, Chrycynthia Ward Davis hired Meredith after he had represented her in another matter and had full faith in his capabilities. Meredith specifically said, “He’s my son outside the courtroom. Inside the courtroom, he is just another witness, and I will eat him up.” However, Judge Kevin Moulton removed the attorney from the case. Davis later terminated a second lawyer because of trial delays, according to his mother, who indicated in an earlier interview the lawyer was not communicating with her son and they were frustrated by the postponements he requested. A third attorney also cited a conflict of interest and withdrew after just a few weeks of being appointed. Goggans began representing Davis in June 2016, after nearly a decade.
Davis was arrested back in June 2007 in the shooting death of Pete Reaves, along with two other men, and has been held without bond in the Houston County Jail ever since. He has pleaded not guilty. “Courts have an obligation to investigate into a possible conflict of interest of defense counsel when the potential for conflict is brought to the courts’ attention,” Goggans argued in his motion to dismiss filed in April. He added, “It took over four years for the conflict to addressed and resolved. This delay should not fall upon Davis but upon the government.” Prosecutors oppose the motion, citing that some of the delay was caused by Davis’ own decisions and the state is not at fault. “The length of delay in this matter is justifiable and attributable to Davis. Davis has failed to show any purposeful delay on behalf of the state, and he has failed to show how he has been prejudiced by any delay,” they wrote in response to the filing.