He's Been in Jail Since 1988. He Still Says He's Innocent

Russell Davies says he didn't fire shot that killed his friend
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 4, 2016 10:01 AM CDT
Updated Jul 9, 2016 3:45 PM CDT
He's Been in Jail Since 1988. He Still Says He's Innocent

"We don't understand any of it." That's how Carol Davies sums up her son's 1988 murder conviction for which he's serving life in prison. Thirty years after his supposed crime, the Canadian Press spotlights the case of Russell Davies, a Canadian man it says was "swallowed" by Florida's prison system. In 1986, Davies stole a car and his mom's credit card and drove from a Toronto suburb to Daytona Beach, hoping to "start again," he says. But he quickly fell in with a rough group and started carrying a gun. One night in June, some friends drove to a secluded spot where a drunk Jack Chaney started mouthing off to Davies, who was then 18. Davies says he hit Chaney on the side of the head with a gun that went off. Davies says the bullet shot into the woods, though others disagree. Then, according to Davies, John Cavallaro grabbed the gun and shot Chaney under the chin.

At Davies' trial—which lasted just seven hours—an expert testified that the bullet that killed Chaney entered under his chin. Yet Cavallaro, who pleaded guilty to attempted murder, was sentenced to 12 years behind bars and served only two. Davies, who refused to take a plea deal, was sentenced to life in prison, where he remains today. Looking back, the 48-year-old blames his lawyer, who didn't call Cavallaro or Davies to the stand. He also seemingly ignored Davies' fellow inmates who said he never confessed to the crime, though a correctional officer claimed otherwise. Florida has so far refused to transfer Davies to Canada, where the focus is on rehabilitating criminals and legal experts say "the odds are slim Davies would have been convicted of first-degree murder in the first place, or still been behind bars 30 years later even if he had been." The full piece is worth a read. (More Florida stories.)

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