User Login    
 + Register
News : Missouri Appeals Court Overturns Abduction Conviction
Posted by Randy on 2014/8/4 4:22:57 (309 reads) News by the same author

(joplinglobe.com) — A state appeals court has overturned the conviction of an Oklahoma man in the 2011 kidnapping and assault of two women south of Joplin because the trial judge did not allow the defendant’s family in the courtroom during jury selection.
Click to see original Image in a new window

The Court of Appeals for the Southern District of Missouri decided that Associate Circuit Judge John LePage violated Johnny R. Davis Jr.’s Sixth Amendment right to a public trial by closing the courtroom during the voir dire portion of his trial in March of last year.

A jury convicted Davis, 35, on two counts of kidnapping and two counts of first-degree assault at the trial that was moved to Pineville on a change of venue from Newton County. The judge later assessed Davis four, concurrent 15-year terms that were to be served in the Missouri prison system after he finishes a 30-year sentence in Oklahoma for raping a teacher.

Davis was on parole for that crime when he allegedly abducted the two women, ages 29 and 39, the morning of Dec. 26, 2011, on Cedar Drive south of the Petro truck stop. The women, neither of whom knew the defendant, were attempting to score some methamphetamine and had been directed by text message to meet a man who would take them to a friend.

The women alleged that Davis assaulted them instead, forced them into his truck and drove them to Oklahoma, where he made them perform various sexual acts with him.

Before jury selection began at Davis’ trial, the defendant’s attorney asked that accommodations be made for the public. The judge denied the request, citing the limited seating capacity of the courtroom and the number of potential jurors called. But 14 seats in the jury box were left open throughout the voir dire procedure.

Trial court records acknowledged that after the first break in jury selection, the defendant’s family members had arrived and asked to come in and were told they could not, and that Davis’ attorney then once again raised an objection.

The appeals court cited a U.S. Supreme Court ruling 30 years ago affirming that the constitutional guarantee of a public trial extends to jury selection and pretrial hearings. Waller v. Georgia established four criteria to ensure that the closing of any portion of a trial pass constitutional muster.

First, whichever party wishes to have the courtroom closed must cite “an overriding interest likely to be prejudiced unless the proceeding is closed.” The denial of the public’s access should never be any broader than is necessary to protect that interest; the court must consider “reasonable alternatives” to closing a proceeding; and the judge must find that the overriding interest is adequate to support the measure.

Another Supreme Court ruling four years ago reversed a conviction because the trial judge had closed jury selection without considering all reasonable alternatives.

The state appeals court ruling noted that its members had declined last year to overturn the murder conviction of Eddie Salazar in Jasper County on similar grounds because the trial court’s records did not show that anyone actually was prevented from attending jury selection by the judge’s closing of the proceeding. Salazar, of Carthage, was sentenced to life in prison after being convicted in the murder of his infant son in 2010.

In fact, according to the appeals court ruling, the Waller case’s requirements may not be widely known among Missouri judges and prosecutors since the appeal of Salazar’s conviction is the only other case in the state that has cited Waller, and that ruling was handed down after Davis’ trial. The court further noted that “it likely did not help that Davis’ counsel never mentioned Waller and cited (the other relevant Supreme Court case) only after the jury had been selected and sworn.”

Jake Skouby, the Newton County prosecutor, acknowledged that the closure of courtrooms for jury selection has been somewhat noncontroversial until now. In general, people seldom wish to watch jury selection, he said. But, if they do want to observe the proceeding, they are entitled, he said. He said Davis’ trial was the only case he knows in which an actual record was made of the denial of access and the defense’s objection.

The prosecutor said a hearing has been scheduled for the remanded case Aug. 20 in Pineville.

“We are making arrangements to get Mr. Davis back and are securing transcripts from the first trial,” Skouby said. “We intend to try him again.”

Second citing

MORE THAN 1,000 APPELLATE RULINGS in other states have cited the U.S. Supreme Court decision in Waller v. Georgia over the past 30 years. But the only rulings handed down in Missouri to cite the case have concerned the 2012 murder conviction of Eddie Salazar and last year’s conviction of Johnny Davis Jr. on kidnapping and assault charges.

Printer Friendly Page Send this Story to a Friend Create a PDF from the article


Other articles
2015/5/25 5:57:00 - 10 Historical Facts About Memorial Day
2015/5/25 5:46:10 - Forgotten For Decades, Fallen NY Soldier Is Finally Honored
2015/5/22 17:55:36 - Woman Found Pushing Dead 3-Year-Old Son in Swing
2015/5/21 14:21:21 - NCMC Foundation Presents "Salute Awards"
2015/5/21 11:35:05 - Marshall Man, Accused Of Shooting At Police, Captured In Alabama
2015/5/21 11:25:26 - Police Surround Home Of Suspected Murderer In Sedalia
2015/5/21 10:20:00 - Daily Room Rate At Sunnyview Increases By Eight Dollars
2015/5/21 10:20:00 - Milling Work Scheduled To Begin Next Week In Trenton
2015/5/21 10:10:04 - Kansas Truck Driver Injured In U.S. 36 Accident
2015/5/21 10:07:54 - Putnam County Teens Injured In Late Night Accident
2015/5/21 10:00:00 - AP : Suddenlink Sold To European Company
2015/5/21 10:00:00 - Local Bank Purchases Tax Credits, In Hopes Of Improving Trenton's Downtown
2015/5/21 9:47:51 - Efforts Underway To Repair Lawn Damage At Grundy County Courthouse
2015/5/20 10:55:08 - Area Organizations Plan To Distribute Money-Saving Light Bulbs
2015/5/20 10:47:05 - Gallatin Library Receives $5,628 Grant
2015/5/20 10:00:00 - Area Rivals Tie For 3rd At Class 1 Boys Golf Tournament
2015/5/20 9:10:00 - Trenton High School Announces "Underclassman Awards"
2015/5/19 11:31:12 - Grundy County Commission Will Not Adopt Health Ordinance
2015/5/19 11:27:03 - Trenton Middle School Announces End-Of-Year Awards/Honors
2015/5/19 10:20:00 - Roadwork Planned For Highway 6, East Of Trenton
2015/5/19 10:02:11 - Missouri Farm Bureau Sponsors Photo Contest
2015/5/19 9:53:21 - Caldwell County Fairgrounds In Facebook Competition For Grant Money
2015/5/19 9:44:00 - Special Olympics "Torch Runs" Planned For Area Communities
2015/5/19 9:34:19 - Simpson Park To Host Darin Bryan Memorial Day Race
2015/5/19 9:07:36 - ATV Accident Injures Unionville Girl
2015/5/19 8:34:40 - Chillicothe Facility Hosts Weekend FFA Events
2015/5/19 8:33:23 - Gallatin Man Promoted By Highway Patrol
2015/5/19 8:31:39 - Spickard School Board Meets
2015/5/19 4:50:18 - TPD Busts 2 On Meth Charges Over Weekend
2015/5/19 4:40:44 - Man Drives Truck Through His House On Purpose



Bookmark this article at these sites

                   

Events Today
Listen to KTTN-FM