In the summer of 2007, an Alabama man named Kharon Davis was arrested on charges of capital murder and placed in county jail to await trial. He was 22, and his only previous offense was driving without a license.
Today, as The New York Times reported Tuesday in a deep dive into Davis' case and the problem of lengthy pre-trial detention more broadly, Davis is still in that county jail, still awaiting trial. He has now served half Alabama's minimum murder sentence without any conviction.
The causes for this egregious delay are many. Davis himself has exacerbated the situation by replacing his court-appointed legal team, but he is far from holding sole responsibility. One of his defense attorneys, for example, was the father of an officer investigating his case. He filed just two motions on Davis' behalf in the four years it took for the district attorney to suggest a conflict of interest was in play.
"The court has to gain control of the case and not let it petrify," Jonathan Turley, a constitutional law professor at George Washington University, told the Times. "This is like a railroad saying, 'This is an awful train wreck.' Well, the train belongs to the railroad."
For Davis, the Times notes, there finally may be a light at the end of the tunnel: Jury selection for his trial began Monday.