Former District Attorney Doug Valeska confronting Kharon’s mother
I’ve posted a few photos below I took of the people connected to Kharon Davis’ wait for a trial.
Many of you have texted and emailed me about the Kharon Davis trial and asked why am I not in Alabama covering it?
Truth is I don’t care to. For those of you following the case, he was found guilty yesterday. That is no surprise given the facts of the case.
My lack of interest comes from how I came to believe he was guilty.
That does not excuse how he has been treated. I believe Doug Valeska and Judge Kevin Moulton ignored the constitution, he was held in jail an unheard of for ten years while awaiting trial. There is no legalprecdent for such a wai in the U.S. history. Whether that becomes an over-turnable issue on appeal or not depends on how he is represented moving forward. The quality of his legal defense team would have to radically improve.
I never understood why his lawyers chose not to challenge the media narrative fed by the district attorney and attorney general’s office. They blamed the ten-year delay of the trial on Kharon and nothing by any credible source rebutted their narrative. Those close to the case know for years he was not allowed to see evidence nor legal documents by his lawyer. There is no other appropriate response but to fire them if your Kharon. Then they had the unsavory issue of a private investigator working the case who had an alleged past of drug planting and forced off the Dothan Police department. The mother of Kharon alleged he admitted to her he had not investigated her son’s case. Fowler of all people wanted this idiot back on the case at one point. That should give you insight into the quality of the defense team he had. But here is what bothers people, when allegations like these are made but no formal bar complaints or judicial inquiry committee complaints backed up by proof and sworn affidavits so those making the statements are held accountable it becomes just noise and more conspiracy theories. It robs them of credibility and becomes a negative in people’s view of Kharon Davis.
Their strategy, with a bit of old school lawyering by lead attorney Thomas Goggans, offered no defense just sit back and tell the jury the prosecution didn’t prove their case.
But south Alabama does not work like that, and anyone knows this. To the typical white juror who has read story after story about how Kharon has done everything possible to delay his trial and he is responsible for the ten-year delay, you damn sure better be able to prove his innocence and explain hsi actions. If not you’re doomed from the start.
It further does not help to have convicted felons contradict themselves and accuse prosecutors of threats and in one case simply refuse to testify out of fear to the judge that then holds him in contempt. None of that, although interesting to his supporters, makes a case for innocence.
Cynthia Ward Davis, Kharon’s mother
When I learned of this story three years ago from Will Dickerson who was jailed with Kharon, I started with an interview with his mother. I pushed the story as much as I could as a photographer to media outlets which initially found it hard to believe. Never conspiracies, never linked his case to other cases, I tried to stick solely with facts that could be independently verified. I met with New York Times reporter Serge Kovalewski a time or two and gave him access to what information I had, but I had to be candid and always tell him I thought Kharon was guilty. He has written the two best articles about this case in my opinion and are linked here and here.
This is why I stopped pushing and stopped writing about it. Why should I be promoting a case that could potentially free a guilty man? Right or wrong I just dont want my creative work to be used to free a guilty man.
And Ill say it, people sought to make this about race and it wasn’t. Pete Reaves ( the man murdered) blood was red, thats all that matters.
Unfortunately, you had a group of people who sought not to focus on details of the evidence and do investigative reporting. That, if anything, would be the only thing that would have made a difference to this jury. The narrative promoted by the Dothan Eagle and WTVY at the prosecutor’s request left unchallenged proved to be a fatal political move. Seeking to have Doug Valeska or Pat Jones not prosecute the case was a bad move when the state merely replaced them with a far better prosecuter with an unlimited budget.
I told Kenny Glasgow two years ago that if Kharon Davis has a prayer, it will be because his case has to be made not to black people and the NAACP, but to whites who will be the majority of the jury. His community didn’t want to hear this and refused to accept it.
This means facts, documents, real interviews about important issues that create an atmosphere of curiosity and questions on how this could be allowed. Not wild CIA conspiracy theories by Ruth Nelson or the flamboyant former male stripper Larry Ealy who was a spokesman for the case for a time and discussed how black people were still technically being held as slaves by the federal government.
Former stripper Larry Ealy
In doing this Kharon’s mother and his supporters chose a route that did not help Kharon but hurt him. Instead critical hyper focused media that revealed ever deeper questions into his case and documented any misconduct could have been made part of the media discussion. Any misteps by lawyers and judges, there were plenty, could have been documented and reported to the bar association and judical inquiry comission if jusifed. At one point I caught his lawyer Fowler requesting that I print stories that were false about the previous attorney in an attempt to get him back on the case. A compelling argument could have been made for a change of venue and if what the family shared with me was true the judge forced to recuse himself.
Putting disgraced officers up like Keith Gray as a mouthpiece to black listening audiences in Atlanta is not exactly the best way to reach into the minds of white jurors from south Alabama. And no Mr Gray this trial had nothing to do with racism, confederate flags or white privilege it had to do with one man murdering another man.
Former Dothan Police Officer Keith Gray
Choosing to have a spokesperson with maybe a couple of hundred followers rant on facebook that has accused a popular mayor of being a Nazi war child is likewise poor judgment. Rhetoric like ” white supremacy was showcased in its finest hour” and promoting theories that the Dothan police assassinated Pete Reaves and staged the crime scene does not help people understand the facts of the case nor does it lead one to ask hard questions. In the case of potential white jurors it immediately turns them off from any further information from that source and further strengthens a negative opinion they have of Davis.
There is however a question unasked, that needs to be asked. Would Doug Valeska and Judge Kevin Moulton have kept a white man who owned property and could afford a lawyer in jail with a clean record for ten years while awaiting trial ? This has a obvious answer. But whether that is a function of Kharon’s race can’t be said. In other words would this happen to a poor rural white person with no political connections? Yes I think it could in Houston and Henry county.
My point, slaves come in many colors in this place, blacks have no exclusive right to having their constitutional rights ignored in Alabama’s judicial system. They just have a longer history and the data shows it happens in greater numbers to them. In a county where the sheriff is hispanic and the U.S. Attorney is black though this does not equal white supremacy at its finest hour.
What mystifies me is why the NAACP won’t listen to people that are actually from the community when they select cases like Kharon Davis or James Bailey to support. It might be a good idea for people like Mokolo and Simelton to pick an innocent man to defend or one that hasnt already confessed to murder. Just a novel thought… but what do I know.
Finally when a minister in the black community, Latonya Dorsey, brings a family member forward to explain how the three men came to her home trying to cover up the shooting instead of reporting it and getting the victim medical help is a death blow.
White rural jurors from Houston county are going to convict everyone involved in an incident like that if given half a chance.
But why people like Rickey Stokes and I are not writing about it is simple. We think he’s guilty and the jury thought the same. Kharon’s case was like the next case that’s coming up the NAACP has promoted as a example of injustice. Drug dealer James Bailey’s attempt to overturn a conviction of murdering C.J. Hatfield ( he confessed but is now claiming he lied in his confession). One filled with conspiracy theories and little facts, promoted by stark raving lunatics.
Guilty men trying to escape their day in court, or overcome a verdict they find hard to accept. A close friend asked me today can you imagine us ever having put ourselves in that situation, I said no I couldn’t. But even if I had, I would have done everything in my power to help Pete Reaves once he had been fatally shot.
Kharon Davis did not.