WASHINGTON — Baltimore’s top prosecutor won’t intervene in the case of a man serving life plus 30 years in a Maryland prison despite GPS evidence that says he couldn’t have been the triggerman in a shooting that paralyzed a 5-year-old girl.
Lawyers for Lamont Davis, 22, had asked Baltimore City State’s Attorney Gregg L. Bernstein in October to agree that Davis’ conviction in the high-profile case should be set aside. After reviewing the case and speaking with a witness who testified, however, Bernstein wrote in a letter that his office believes there was “more than enough evidence and testimony” for the jury that heard the case in 2010 to have “discarded the evidence regarding the GPS monitoring, and based its decision on other evidence such as the eyewitness testimony of two witnesses.”
Bernstein acknowledged in the Nov. 20 letter that prosecutors introduced a “flawed” theory at trial to explain why a GPS tracking device Davis had been ordered to wear showed that he was at his home at the time of the shooting. The GPS records were off by two hours, prosecutors argued, making it possible for Davis to have committed the shooting. But Bernstein wrote that an expert on the GPS technology who testified “clearly refuted” that theory.
Bernstein also said Davis’ lawyers had done an adequate job representing him during his trial.
“While you and I perhaps may have chosen to defend the case in a different way, this is not the standard of evaluation,” he wrote to the head of the state’s Office of the Public Defender, Paul B. DeWolfe, and Michele Nethercott, an attorney who is now representing Davis.
DeWolfe had written Bernstein in November to urge a new trial in the case to correct what he said was a “miscarriage of justice.” He said Davis’ original lawyers, who were employed of his office, made “numerous and egregious mistakes.”
In a second letter emailed this week, Bernstein said his office had, at Nethercott’s urging, also re-interviewed an eyewitness who identified Davis as the shooter at the trial. But Bernstein wrote that when the witness was re-interviewed by his office, the woman’s testimony remained “consistent with the testimony that she provided at trial.” Bernstein wrote that his office was “not in a position to afford the relief you are requesting for your client,” seemingly closing the door to any agreement that Davis’ conviction should be set aside.
Both of Bernstein’s letters and DeWolfe’s letter were provided to The Associated Press by Nethercott, who heads of the Innocence Project Clinic at the University of Baltimore School of Law. A spokesman for Bernstein declined to comment further, saying the letters speak for themselves.