Kharon Davis has already served half the minimum sentence for murder, but he's never been found guilty. The New York Times reports Davis has been in an Alabama jail awaiting trial since 2007. He was 22 at the time. It's one of the longest waits for a trial the Times could find. "I feel like a foolish mascot, parading to and from the courthouse," Davis wrote to his mother last year. Davis was charged with murder in connection with a drug deal that went bad. Two men allegedly with Davis have already completed their trials, with one being sentenced to 99 years in prison and the other acquitted. But instead of getting his day in court, Davis has cycled through four teams of lawyers, two judges, and nine trial dates, the first of which was scheduled for 2008.
The reasons for the delays are myriad. Davis' first lawyer was the father of an investigating officer and ended up cross-examining his own son. More conflicts of interest would follow. There were also delays over newly found evidence, busy lawyers, and Davis' decision to replace his legal team—for failing to end the delays. There are also systemic problems in the justice system, especially for poor defendants, that have contributed to the wait. When Davis' new legal team brought up his constitutional right to a speedy trial, the judge blamed Davis for all the delays and told his lawyers they waited too long to bring up the concern. Jury selection for Davis' trial finally started Monday but was already delayed Tuesday over concerns of jury tampering, the Dothan Eagle reports. A mistrial is a possibility. Meanwhile, Davis' mother tells the Times her son is being treated like "an impounded dog." (Read more criminal justice system stories.)