Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Retiring judge plans to be active

Retiring judge plans to be active

Holcomb, 72, pledges his help


  • Judge Charles Holcomb puts on his robe before court. Holcomb is retiring because of a law that says he can't run past the age of 70.

    Judge Charles Holcomb puts on his robe before court. Holcomb is retiring because of a law that says he can't run past the age of 70. (Michael R. Brown, FLORIDA TODAY)

  • Michelle Baker
  • Robert Burger
  • Charlie Roberts

TITUSVILLE -- Most retirees look forward to resting after spending decades at work with few breaks.

But after 18 years on the bench and 20-plus as a private attorney, 72-year-old Titusville Circuit Judge Charles Holcomb says he doesn't intend to slow down at all. He must step down Jan. 6 because of a mandatory law that says judges can't run for election past age 70.

"Some of my friends are surprised when I say I'd rather come to work than play golf," Holcomb said. He's already mapped out a plan to either continue to preside over overflow court cases as a senior judge, act as a civil circuit court mediator, teach college law classes, or all three.

"I wouldn't be happy unless I had something to do, so I plan to stay busy," he said.

Holcomb's retirement is just one part of a major reshuffling of judges come January:

  • Dependency court Circuit Judge Jack Griesbaum will take over Holcomb's criminal docket.
  • Griesbaum's spot will be filled by Circuit Judge Charlie Crawford, whose family court docket will be picked up by Charlie Roberts, a civil attorney who ran unopposed in the August primary.
  • Judge-elect Michelle Baker will assume the civil docket once held by County Judge Kenneth Friedland, who will take over the Titusville misdemeanor court spot previously held by County Judge Oscar Hotusing. Baker defeated Hotusing in the August primary.
  • Judge-elect Robert Burger will take over the criminal docket of Circuit Judge Meryl Allawas, whom he defeated in the August primary.
  • Felony criminal court Circuit Judge David Dugan will switch with civil court Circuit Judge George Turner.

    Judges are allowed to swap dockets every two years or so to expand their experience or explore their interests in different types of cases.

    Clerk of the Court Scott Ellis said he's confident the new and remaining judges will keep things running smoothly.

    But the departure of Holcomb -- whose experience presiding over civil, family and most recently criminal cases has earned him a reputation as "a true workhorse" -- is a great loss to the Brevard County court system, Ellis said.

    "Some people treat it as a job, but Judge Holcomb treats being a judge as a duty," said Ellis, who has known Holcomb for more than 10 years and worked closely with him in the past on a committee addressing jail overcrowding issues.

    Holcomb "gave the job everything he had to ensure his courtroom ran efficiently and that justice was not delayed for those before him," Ellis said. "His efforts will be sorely missed."

    Born in Live Oak, Holcomb spent much of his youth on his family's farm. The 1954 Vero Beach High graduate received a bachelor's degree in English from Stetson University in 1958 and worked as a salesman for several years before enrolling in the University of Florida College of Law. Holcomb graduated in 1966.

    Since then, Holcomb has worked throughout the legal field, including as a part-time prosecutor for the city of Rockledge and as an assistant city attorney and the last municipal judge for Cocoa.

    Holcomb was elected in 1990 to a newly created circuit seat, and has covered several high-profile cases, including hearings involving child killer Mark Dean Schwab, who died by lethal injection in July for the 1991 kidnapping, rape and murder of 11-year-old Junny Rios-Martinez Jr. of Cocoa. Holcomb was also instrumental in implementing Brevard's current parental visitation guidelines, crafted to help divorcing parents fairly share their time and responsibilities and to foster a friendly environment for the child.

    As he leaves the bench, Holcomb said he is grateful to his colleagues and the citizens of Brevard County.

    "I just love the law," he said. "I've been very blessed and I appreciate the people of the 18th Circuit for allowing me to be a judge for them. It's the ride of my life."

    Contact Summers at 242-3642 or

  • Big in Brevard

  • Dillon free after 27 years in prison

  • On Nov. 18, William Dillon walked out of the Brevard County jail and raised his hands over his head. Even though the state promised to try him again, Dillon knew he would not be going back.
  • The Satellite Beach man spent 27 years in prison for a murder he said he did not commit. On Dec. 10, Dillon received a phone call from his attorney letting him know the state was dropping all charges against him.

    Dillon benefited from recent DNA testing that excluded him from a key piece of evidence prosecutors insisted was worn by the killer. The case was reminiscent of the Wilton Dedge case. Dedge was released in 2004 after DNA cleared him from a rape conviction that he had served
    22 years for.

  • Both cases involved the use of fraudulent dog handler John Preston by the state.
  • Both cases involved the use of jailhouse snitches claiming they were promised nothing in return for their testimony.
  • Both cases were resolved after defense attorneys fought to have DNA evidence considered.

    Public Defender J.R. Russo, as well as attorneys for the Innocence Project of Florida, called for the governor to appoint a special prosecutor to look into possible misconduct by the state attorney's office in Brevard County.

  • One of the county's most notorious personalities was executed, while another man was released from prison -- after serving 27 years for a murder he says he didn't commit.

    Judge focuses on jail crowding, reforms - Brevard

    December 26, 2008

    Judge focuses on jail crowding, reforms


    A senior Florida judge soon will meet individually with
    Brevard County commissioners about chronic jail
    overcrowding in Sharpes.

    In July, Charles Edelstein submitted a 115-page report
    citing criminal-justice changes that may alleviate
    cramped conditions at the 1,701-bed
    Brevard County Jail Complex.

    Inmates filed a federal class-action lawsuit in 1983 -- but
    overcrowding remains unresolved a quarter-century later.

    The jail routinely exceeds its inmate capacity: Average
    monthly population was 1,802 last year, records show.

    By a 4-1 vote earlier this month, the commission decided
    to contract with Edelstein for up to $5,000 in jail-crowding
    consulting services. He will travel to Brevard from his Miami
    office and brief newly elected commissioners Andy Anderson,
    Robin Fisher and Trudie Infantini.

    Edelstein will earn $100 an hour, which includes travel expenses.
    The contract extends through Jan. 31.

    Infantini cast the sole no vote. Saying the county shelled
    out more than $400,000 for outside legal counsel last year,
    she wanted in-house attorneys to brief her instead.

    "I don't need the author of any book to tell me what it says in the book.
    You should be able to read it, and another attorney can communicate that," Infantini said.

    Tuesday, December 30, 2008

    Recession adds to ex-felons' job-hunt woes

    Recession adds to ex-felons' job-hunt woes
    Jeff Kunerth

    Sentinel Staff Writer

    December 30, 2008

    It took Vikki Hankins 18 years to get out of prison. It's her bad luck she got out during a recession.

    For an ex-felon to find a job these days is tough -- nearly impossible.

    "Basically, nobody will hire you," said Stephanie Porta, spokeswoman for Orlando ACORN, a community-based advocacy organization that works with ex-felons looking for employment. "Even people with little felonies are not finding jobs."

    Hankins, 40, released eight months ago from a federal prison in Florida, is living in an International Drive motel paid for by Advocate4Justice, a group that promotes prison reform. She has been turned down for jobs at Denny's, McDonald's, Golden Corral, Walmart, Home Depot, Ramada Inn, Hess and 7-Eleven.

    Hankins was sentenced to 23 years for possession of 22 grams of cocaine, but the mark of her conviction is something she will carry the rest of her life.

    "There are people who paid the penalty for their mistakes. Inside the soul and the heart, they have changed completely. For those people, do you continue to punish them by holding them to the fire for the rest of their lives?" said Hankins, who was convicted under the alias Vanessa Wade.

    Resuming their lives

    The plight of unemployed ex-felons is the unfinished business of the civil-rights restoration, a process Gov. Charlie Crist approved last year, making it easier for those same people to regain the right to vote, state Rep. Geraldine Thompson of Orlando said.

    "It's a major problem at this point. That has been the hardest part of the whole restoration [of rights] project," Thompson said.

    Florida, home to more than 600,000 released felons, should follow the lead of other states that offer employers tax incentives to hire them, state Sen. Gary Siplin said. And it needs to revisit a bill that stalled in the Florida Senate to make it easier for released felons to have their criminal records expunged, he said. Such a move would allow them to legally say on an application form that they have not been convicted of a felony.

    "A person who hasn't committed a crime in 10 or 15 years, they should be able to resume their lives," Siplin said.

    The bill to make it easier for records to be expunged died amid opposition from employers who said they need to know the criminal backgrounds of the people they hire. Others contend that criminal records might continue to exist in various databases, regardless of their official removal.

    "Expungement doesn't really accomplish what you think it accomplishes. The arrest will be there although the conviction is expunged," said Michael Seigel, professor of law at the University of Florida. "More than likely, an employer will find out."

    'It's like I'm blackballed'

    What Vikki Hankins deals with is what Alice Laguerre has been living with for 23 years. Laguerre got out of the Orange County jail for drug possession and aggravated battery the same year Hankins went into federal prison. Laguerre went 12 years without a job before landing a position through a labor pool making $5.50 an hour moving cars at an auto auction.

    During her unemployment, she learned how to apply for a job. She doesn't bother filling out an application without first checking for the question: Have you ever been convicted of a felony? Then she asks how far back the employer does criminal-background checks. If it's five years, or seven years, she answers no. That at least gives her a chance of landing a job. Answering yes means certain rejection.

    "It's like I'm blackballed from the work force," said Laguerre, 55.

    Venues hiring may help

    One potential source of jobs for released felons in this economy is the promise of Orlando's Community Venues to hire former convicts for construction work on the Events Center, Dr. Phillips Orlando Performing Arts Center and Florida Citrus Bowl renovation.

    So far, that hasn't happened.

    Siplin and other black elected officials say they are closely watching the Community Venues projects to ensure that released felons are given the chance to work.

    Like many others, Vikki Hankins came out of prison thinking the worst was over. She could start her life again. Little did she know she would end up out of work and living in a motel room slightly larger than her prison cell.

    "Right now, I'm on a prayer," she said. "What is going to happen, when it is going to happen, how is it going to happen -- I try not to let that consume me."

    Jeff Kunerth can be reached at or 407-420-5392.

    Florida's Prison Budget: Imprison With Precision

    Published: Tuesday, December 30, 2008 at 12:01 a.m.

    This month, Florida's prison population exceeded 100,000 for the first time.

    Only California and Texas have more inmates. And Florida Corrections Secretary Walter McNeil says the Department of Corrections may have to putup tents to house all the inmates. McNeil saidat the current growth trend, Florida will need 19 new prisons in the next five years. That will require the DOC budget to nearly double, to about $4 billion.

    But that's not what McNeil is recommending. Instead, he wants lawmakers to re-evaluate tough mandatory-sentencing laws and concentrate on reducing high recidivism rate so inmates are less likely to return to prison once released.

    The 100,000 mark "is sort of a demarcation point," McNeil said. "For me it's a statement that our prisons are becoming a burden, and the building of prisons is becoming a greater burden on the taxpayers."

    One way to reduce recidivism is to ensure that inmates have access to education, vocational, mental health and substance-abuse programs. Unfortunately, when budgets are cut, those are usually the first things to go.REPEAT OFFENDERS"Research data show that correctional education and associated academic achievement providea positive turning point for incarcerated offenders in their postrelease lives," says Tom Blomberg,dean of the Florida State College of Criminology and Criminal Justice. "They are more likely to gain employment and therefore less likely to reoffend."

    In Florida, about one in three inmates is back in prison within three years of release. Of the 100,000 current inmates, 46 percent are in for a second time.

    Building more prisons will cost Florida taxpayers a one-time investment of $76,923 per prisoner to build new prisons. To that add $20,000 per year to keep each prisoner locked up. And to that add a projected increase of 5,000 prisoners each year through 2014.

    In short, Florida needs to stop throwing money at new prisons and become a lot smarter about whom it locks up, what happens to inmates while they are incarcerated and how well prepared they are to re-enter society after their sentences are up.

    This story appeared in print on page A8

    2008's biggest local stories mixed hopeful news with sad

    By Jennifer Portman and Gerald Ensley

    In 2008, they became household names. Rachel. Buster. Fay. Ronshay.

    Tallahassee Democrat staffers — with the help of readers — looked back on this year that was marred by tragedies and lifted by personal triumphs. Here is our list of the top 10 local news stories of 2008.

    Death of Rachel Hoffman

    On May 9 the body of police informant Rachel Hoffman, a 23-year-old FSU graduate, was found in Taylor County. Two days earlier she had been shot to death when a police-led drug bust went bad.

    Hoffman's death rocked the community. A grand jury found the Tallahassee Police Department negligent for sending the first-time informant out alone with $13,000 to buy drugs and a gun.

    As the department works to rebuild credibility, Hoffman's family attorney stands ready to sue the city, and Andrea Green and Deneilo Bradshaw await trial in connection with her murder.

    Hilton's indictment

    On Jan. 9 drifter Gary Michael Hilton, 61, was pegged as the prime suspect in Cheryl Dunlap's December 2007 murder. Dunlap, 46, was a nurse and Sunday-school teacher from Wakulla County.

    Hilton had been arrested days earlier in DeKalb County, Ga., after he was found cleaning blood out of his van. He later led police to the body of hiker Meredith Emerson, 24, and pleaded guilty to her murder. Quickly sentenced to life without parole, Hilton faces the death penalty in connection with Dunlap's killing.

    Deaths of children

    The high-profile deaths of four children in a four-month stretch were heartbreaking.

    On May 6, third-grader Kyle Jones fell into a pool of water in the sand mine near his home while looking for tadpoles. The mine, at State Road 20 and Maige Road in western Leon County, was operated by Jimmie Crowder Excavating & Land Clearing.

    Leon County commissioners have since passed an ordinance requiring sand mines to be fenced and marked with "no trespassing" signs.

    On July 11, 4-year-old Grace Chen was sleeping during nap time at The Stepping Stones day care on Weems Road when a bathroom fan caught fire. She was overlooked during the panicky evacuation.

    The center is now closed. The complete investigative report by the state Fire Marshal's Office has not yet been released.

    On Aug. 23, 12-year-old Thomas McClane Crutchfield drowned after he fell into an overflowing lake dam by his home in Cairo, Ga. He was known as "Mac" to his friends and his Area Tallahassee Aquatic Club teammates.

    And on Sept. 5, 8-year-old Ronshay Dugans was killed when a bus carrying 27 kids to a Boys and Girls Club was hit by a concrete truck on Capital Circle Southeast. Twenty kids had minor injuries; six went to the hospital and were later released.

    A week later the truck driver, Marchaun Tremayne Andrews, 24, was charged with vehicular manslaughter and multiple counts of reckless driving. He's awaiting trial.

    Two plane crashes

    At 8:40 p.m. Feb. 8, a single-engine plane crashed at Ocala Road and Tennessee Street. Power went out to 7,200 utility customers, and traffic was massively snarled. Miraculously, pilot Hal McCord Jr. suffered only a broken leg and bruises in the nose-first crash — in part because power lines broke his fall — and no one at the busy corner on that Friday night was hurt.

    On Nov. 13 another small plane crashed. This one came down in the Ridge Road neighborhood in southwest Tallahassee, about a mile from the airport. It killed Donald and Victoria Hess of New York, the only two in the plane. Two people on the ground were injured, but not seriously.

    FSU role models

    Amid all the bad news, FSU student-athletes Buster Posey, Walter Dix and Myron Rolle provided welcome relief. Their accomplishments — in class and in sports — made us all proud.

    Posey won the Golden Spikes, Dick Howser Trophy, ACC triple crown and nearly every award there was to win as he took FSU back to the College World Series. He was later drafted by the San Francisco Giants in the first round.

    Dix ran his way into the Olympics, becoming the only U.S. male athlete to qualify for two track events, and came home with two bronze medals. He also powered FSU to its third consecutive NCAA track-and-field championship.

    And in the fall, FSU football player Rolle became the fourth Rhodes Scholar in FSU history. After receiving the award, he flew to Maryland and helped secure a Seminoles victory.

    Tropical Storm Fay

    On Aug. 23 Fay finally hit Tallahassee after spending a soaking week in the state, making four separate landfalls. At its worst, it officially dropped 9.33 inches of rain. But in parts of eastern Leon County, Jefferson County and other eastern areas, it dumped 15 to more than 20 inches, causing severe flooding.

    Panic at the pump

    As Hurricane Ike approached the Galveston-Houston area Sept. 12, gas-buying panic gripped Tallahassee on a Friday afternoon. Fears that the hurricane would limit supplies of gasoline created a rush on service stations throughout the city, causing traffic jams and sucking nearly every pump dry.

    Prices peaked at $5.49, hovered around $4 for weeks and finally began to drop as the economy faltered. By Nov. 13, prices dipped below $2. The downward slide continues.

    Signs of hope at FAMU

    Florida A&M University, beleaguered by financial problems in 2007 and earlier, learned June 26 that its accreditation was to be restored by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools.

    Also this year, a task force created by the Legislature to help the school with its bookkeeping issues also declared FAMU had addressed the majority of its financial problems and had proper procedures and controls in place.

    FAMU's pharmacy department also got its accreditation restored through 2010. Its law school, however, was slammed by the American Bar Association. The school must make major improvements by next year to keep its accreditation.

    Red Hills tragedy

    On March 15 longtime competitor Darren Chiacchia suffered serious head and internal injuries in a fall during Red Hills Horse Trials cross-country competition. His horse was OK, but two other horses died during the same competition — the second and third horses ever to die during the event.

    By fall, Chiacchia had defied the odds. He had overcome his injuries and was back in the saddle.

    First Film Festival

    Over three days in May, the first Tallahassee Film Festival screened more than 65 movies for free. The event, which exceeded all expectations, promises to be even bigger in 2009.

    Lee family still awaiting answers

    Editor's note: As 2008 draws to a close, the Sun is recapping the top stories of the year.

    Someday, Nathan Lee will have to explain all of this to his sons.

    He dreads that day, when the two boys will be old enough to understand why their mother never returned that January afternoon. She was taken, as Adam and Noah cried in their crib.

    The man would rape and murder Denise Amber Lee, a 21-year-old angel in the eyes of her children.

    Authorities tried to save her, but they seemed to be a step behind.

    Nathan has spent many nights awake, wondering how he will recount the details when he still has questions.

    And those answers haven't been forthcoming.

    Lee plans on suing the Charlotte County Sheriff's Office concerning the handling of a 911 call by one of the last witnesses to see Denise alive, and the subsequent internal investigation by the department.

    "I'm angry at the way the Sheriff's Office wants to shrug it off like it's no big deal," he said. "That bothers me."

    The past year has been surreal to the 24-year-old North Port father, whose life forever changed Jan. 17.

    Lee returned home at 3:30 p.m. that day to find the windows shut.

    Something wasn't right, as he had spoken to Denise earlier about opening up the house to save on electric costs.

    She did, but now the home was sealed and humid.

    Lee could hear his sons -- then 2 and 7 months -- in the bedroom. Noah's voice was hoarse.

    Denise was gone, but her purse, keys and cell phone were left behind. Lee called 911.

    At 4:59 p.m., the first BOLO was issued by the North Port Police Department.

    It named Denise, and gave a physical description of the possible suspect. It also mentioned the dark green Chevrolet Camaro, last seen in Lee's driveway that afternoon.

    By then, the Charlotte County Sheriff's Office had sent its teletype operator home to avoid overtime, a common practice for the agency.

    A dispatcher later told investigators she checked the computer frequently for alerts, although details about the car weren't aired until later.

    During the ordeal, Denise secretly used the suspect's cell phone to contact the Sarasota County 911 call center.

    Her conversation with authorities lasted roughly seven minutes, as she relayed information while pretending to be talking to her captor.

    Soon after, Jane Kowalski stopped on Tamiami Trail at the Cranberry Boulevard intersection.

    A dark Camaro pulled up alongside her vehicle, its passenger side window partially down.

    Kowalski saw a hand slapping the glass, trying to get out. Her 911 call was routed to the Charlotte County, since she had crossed county lines.

    She stayed on the phone nearly 10 minutes with dispatchers, describing the situation, which to her, appeared to be a kid screaming in a "blue" Camaro.

    Kowalski slowed her vehicle, but the suspect, sensing her suspicion, wouldn't pass.

    At the last minute, the man turned onto Toledo Blade Boulevard. Kowalski parked at the Port Charlotte Town Center to await a follow-up interview.

    No one ever came.

    The Sheriff's Office didn't broadcast any of Kowalski's information, which was handwritten on a piece of paper and shouted across the room by the dispatcher.

    Michael King was apprehended shortly after 9 p.m. by the Florida Highway Patrol. He was soaked from the waist down. Denise's ring was in the backseat of his Camaro.

    Her body was found two days later, buried off Toledo Blade, near Interstate 75.

    King, 37, faces kidnapping, rape and capital murder charges. The state is seeking the death penalty.

    The case has made national news, in part, due to the controversy surrounding the missed opportunities by authorities.

    Lee is convinced Denise would still be alive if key information had been passed along to deputies saturating the area.

    The department's response has only made matters worse for the grieving husband.

    Two dispatchers were suspended without pay by the Charlotte County Sheriff's Office over the handling of Kowalski's call.

    Elizabeth Martinez used vacation time to cover her 36-hour required leave, while Susan Kallestad was suspended 60 hours. Both women had to complete 12 hours of remedial training.

    Since the incident, Sheriff John Davenport said the department has taken steps to help with future situations.

    Dispatch supervisors will no longer carry a Nextel phone, as it added to the confusion that night with people not calling the recorded line. Information has to be entered into the computer, not yelled across the room.

    "This was human error," Davenport said.

    Lee has taken his frustration to a higher level.

    Earlier this year, lawmakers passed the Denise Amber Lee Act, which establishes voluntary training standards for dispatchers statewide. Lee hopes to pass a similar act in his home state of Maryland.

    But he's not finished.

    Family members established the Denise Amber Lee Foundation to create awareness about 911 issues, and improve training.

    To date, the fund has generated about $30,000. The goal is to have a training center locally, and help the families of murder victims.

    "(The foundation) is my medicine," Lee said. "I'm really doing my best to turn a negative into a positive."

    One of those positives is the relationship Lee shares with his boys.

    The three have formed a bond unlike before, where even the little things are cherished.

    Right now, the kids don't fully understand the concept of life and death. One day, they will ask about Jan. 17, 2008.

    "It will probably be the second worst day of my life," Lee said.



    Staff Writer

    Supreme Court overturns death penalty case

    December 30, 2008

    Supreme Court overturns death penalty case

    The Florida Supreme Court made an unusual decision on Monday and agreed to overturn the death sentence of Willie H. Nowell who was convicted for first-degree murder. They remanded the case back to the trial court with new directions for a new trial.

    The Florida high court rarely overturns death penalty cases. In this Brevard County case, judges agreed that the trial court judge made a mistake by not not ruling that the prosecutor had made improper comments during his closing arguments in the trial's penalty phase, by arguing that Nowell didn't deserve "mercy." They also ruled that the prosecution made the mistake of trying to rule out a juror based on his race, Hispanic. Check it out here.

    Opinion in Jimmy Ates filed September 15, 2004


    v. CASE NO. 1D03-3613
    Opinion filed September 15, 2004.
    An appeal from the Circuit Court for Okaloosa County.
    Thomas T. Remington, Judge.
    Robert Augustus Harper and Michael Robert Ufferman of Robert Augustus Harper
    Law Firm, P.A., Tallahassee, for Appellant.
    Charles J. Crist, Jr., Attorney General; Robert R. Wheeler, Bureau Chief - Criminal
    Appeals; and Elizabeth Fletcher Duffy, Assistant Attorney General, Tallahassee, for
    AFFIRMED. See Lawrence v. State, 831 So. 2d 121 (Fla. 2002).

    Docket - Case Number: 1D03-3613 - Jimmy Ates

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    Florida First District Court of Appeal Docket

    Case Docket

    Case Number: 1D03-3613

    Final Criminal 3.850 Notice from Okaloosa County

    Jimmy L. Ates vs. State of Florida

    Lower Tribunal Case(s): 97-945-CFA

    Date Docketed
    Date Due
    Filed By
    08/25/2003 Notice of Appeal Filed Robert A. Harper, Jr. 0127600
    08/25/2003 Received Records 14 vol in box in vault
    08/27/2003 Notice of Appeal / Acknowledgement letter
    09/08/2003 Docketing Statement AA Robert A. Harper 0127600
    09/22/2003 Mot. for Extension of time to file Initial Brief Robert A. Harper, Jr. 0127600
    09/24/2003 Grant Initial Brief Extension-1A 10/24/2003
    10/24/2003 Motion For Oral Argument Robert A. Harper, Jr. 0127600
    10/24/2003 Initial Brief on Merits Robert A. Harper, Jr. 0127600 disc
    11/18/2003 Mot. for Extension of time to file Answer Brief Elizabeth Fletcher Duffy, A.A.G. 0980404
    12/01/2003 Grant Answer Brief Extension-3A 01/06/2004
    01/06/2004 Mot. for Extension of time to file Answer Brief Robert R. Wheeler, A.A.G. 0796409
    01/22/2004 Grant Answer Brief Extension-3A 02/06/2004
    02/05/2004 Appellee's Answer Brief Elizabeth Fletcher Duffy, A.A.G. 0980404 disk
    02/26/2004 Appellant's Reply Brief Robert A. Harper, Jr. 0127600
    04/20/2004 OA Denied-81
    09/15/2004 Affirmed - Citation
    09/30/2004 Motion For Rehearing Michael Robert Ufferman 114227
    10/21/2004 Deny Appellant's Motion for Rehearing-56A
    11/08/2004 Circuit Court Mandate
    11/08/2004 Court / Agency Mandate Cover Letter
    11/08/2004 West Publishing
    11/08/2004 Case Closed
    12/09/2004 Returned Records 14 vol by dhl
    12/09/2004 Case Permanent

    Docket Jimmy Ates

    Florida First District Court of Appeal Docket

    Case Docket

    Case Number: 1D99-653

    Final Criminal Other Notice from Okaloosa County

    Jimmy L. Ates vs. State of Florida

    Lower Tribunal Case(s): 97-945

    Date Docketed
    Date Due
    Filed By
    02/24/1999 Notice of Appeal Filed Drew Shelton Pinkerton 0264921
    02/25/1999 Case Filing Fee Smith Grimsley Bauman Pinkerton Petermann & Wells
    03/04/1999 Docketing Statement Appellant AA Drew Shelton Pinkerton 0264921
    03/29/1999 Mot for Extension of Time to File Ct. Rpter Note Joanna Amunds
    03/29/1999 Mot for Extension of Time to File Ct. Rpter Note Cliff Godwin
    03/29/1999 Mot for Extension of Time to File Ct. Rpter Note Dorothy Craft
    03/29/1999 Mot for Extension of Time to File Ct. Rpter Note Carol Hearne
    04/15/1999 Grant Ct Rptr Ext Transcript-No fur EOT-26D 06/15/1999 mot filed by Joanna Amunds
    04/15/1999 Grant Ct Rptr Ext Transcript-No fur EOT-26D 06/15/1999 mot filed by Cliff Godwin
    04/15/1999 Grant Ct Rptr Ext Transcript-No fur EOT-26D 06/15/1999 mot filed by Dorothy Craft
    04/15/1999 Grant Ct Rptr Ext Transcript-No fur EOT-26D 06/15/1999 mot filed by Carol Hearne
    06/23/1999 Motion For Substitution of Counsel filed by Leo Thomas
    07/01/1999 Received Records 20 volumes in 2 boxes vault
    07/01/1999 Index in box w/rec
    07/01/1999 Received Exhibits 1 brn env *SEALED* Vault
    07/08/1999 Grant Substitution of Counsel-31A sub of Thomas for Pinkerton/Dewrell for AA.
    07/19/1999 Mot. for Extension of time to file Initial Brief Leo A. Thomas 0149502
    08/03/1999 Supplemental Records 1 volume
    08/05/1999 Grant Init Brf Ext-No Fur EOT Unless Emerg-1B 10/25/1999
    10/15/1999 Initial Brief on Merits Leo A. Thomas 0149502
    11/08/1999 Mot. for Extension of time to file Answer Brief Charmaine M. Millsaps 0989134
    11/15/1999 Grant Answer Brief Extension-3A 12/17/1999
    12/17/1999 Mot. for Extension of time to file Answer Brief James W. Rogers, A.A.G. 0325791
    12/29/1999 Grant Answer Brief Extension-3A 01/14/2000
    01/14/2000 Mot. for Extension of time to file Answer Brief Charmaine M. Millsaps 0989134
    01/24/2000 Grant Ans Brf Ext/No Fur EOT unless Emerg-3B 01/31/2000
    02/01/2000 Mot. for Extension of time to file Answer Brief Charmaine M. Millsaps 0989134
    02/07/2000 Grant Ans Brf Ext/No Fur EOT unless Emerg-3B 02/07/2000
    03/27/2000 Assigned Without Answer Brief-166
    05/30/2000 Appellee's Answer Brief Charmaine M. Millsaps 0989134 disc
    06/05/2000 Motion To Strike Leo A. Thomas 0149502 ans brf of aplee
    06/06/2000 Motion To File Enlarged Brief Charmaine M. Millsaps 0989134
    06/06/2000 RESPONSE Charmaine M. Millsaps 0989134 to mo strike
    06/06/2000 Miscellaneous Motion Charmaine M. Millsaps 0989134 Mo to accept belated brf
    06/13/2000 Deny Motion to Strike-13A Mot to strike AE brf is denied. Mot to accept enlarged and belated brf is granted.
    06/13/2000 Grant Expanded Answer Brief-Accept Att Brf-18A
    06/13/2000 Grant Motion to Accept Answer Brf as Timely-3G
    06/19/2000 Motion For Oral Argument Leo A. Thomas 0149502
    06/30/2000 Motion To File Enlarged Brief Leo A. Thomas 0149502 reply brfs
    06/30/2000 Appellant's Reply Brief Leo A. Thomas 0149502
    07/05/2000 OA Denied-81
    07/07/2000 Grant Expanded Reply Brief-Accept Att Brief-20A
    07/31/2000 Affirmed - Per Curiam Affirmed
    08/15/2000 Court / Agency Mandate Cover Letter
    08/16/2000 Circuit Court Mandate
    08/16/2000 Case Closed
    08/16/2000 West Publishing
    10/05/2000 Returned Records 20 VOL BY UPS
    10/05/2000 Returned Records 1 SUPP BY UPS
    10/05/2000 Returned Exhibits 1 ENV BY UPS
    10/05/2000 Case Permanent
    07/26/2006 Case Destroyed

    Monday, December 29, 2008

    Faulty evidence

    Faulty evidence

    Ates big break came in 2005, about the time he began his study of Revelation, when the FBI announced it would no longer use a ballistics testing procedure known as metallurgy.

    The FBI deemed the procedure, an analysis of bullet lead, was "unreliable and inaccurate."

    Kathleen Lundy, an FBI expert in metallurgy, testified for the prosecution during Ates' trial. She said bullets owned by Ates likely had been manufactured by the same company at about the same time as the ones that had been used to kill his wife.

    It was precisely the sort of evidence studies showed was inherently flawed.

    "The science was simply wrong," Assistant State Attorney Geoffrey Fleck noted in his report calling for a new trial for Ates.

    Fleck said the FBI repudiation of its expert's testimony gave Ates "new evidence" on which to base an appeal.

    But why? Ates asked skeptically last week, did the state attorney's office wait until 2008 to call for a new trial for him when it knew in 2005 evidence it had used to convict him was worthless.

    Ates remarried following Norma's death and had fathered a child with his second wife. The two remained married after his imprisonment, but agreed to divorce when he learned his case had been "time barred" from further appeal.

    They divorced after 2005. His former wife has remarried.

    "I should have been out in 2005," he said. "If I had been let loose in 2005, my family would still be intact."

    Ates claims the FBI had advised the state attorney's office in Gainesville about its ruling on metallurgy, but the office refused to act until pushed to do so by Okaloosa County Circuit Court Judge Thomas Remington.

    As Ates was pushing for his conviction to be overturned based on the FBI ruling, his case was being re-examined by two Crestview residents who decided to make a documentary about the case.

    The pair requested documentation from the state attorney's office in Gainesville and persisted in their requests, they said, until they finally got it.

    They said they found enough to convince themselves that Jimmy Ates was innocent.

    "We had tons of boxes, and I would say every box had a dozen ‘aha' moments in it," said Travis Huisken, one of the would-be movie makers. "I think we got to the point where we almost could have recreated the event."

    The pair - one of whom asked not to be identified - said they received threatening calls when they were collecting and going through the evidence they'd copied and photographed. They eventually gave up on the documentary.

    However, Huisken and his friend gave what they'd found to the Ates family. Jimmy Ates said he has supplemented his own findings with what the pair discovered.

    "They found this stuff and turned it over to my wife. I looked at some of it. That's what started me on this trip," Ates said.

    Two items that Ates included in his request to overturn the murder verdict was used by Fleck in his request for a new trial.

    One was that prosecutors had failed to disclose to Ates' attorneys that they had found a fingerprint on a gun box in Ates' home that contained .22-caliber bullets. The fingerprint didn't belong to Ates, his wife, lawmen at the scene or two people considered "persons of interest" in the crime.

    Another finding was that DNA samples were taken from two hair follicles found on a bloody towel in the home.

    The prosecution argued at trial, Fleck said, that no DNA other than Ates' had been taken from the home. Analysts were unable to obtain a positive identification from the DNA samples, but a third follicle found on the same towel was never tested for DNA, Fleck's report said.

    Ates insists there was more in the state attorney's office's collection of evidence that could have been used to prove his innocence than even what Fleck has revealed. He mentioned videotapes of the baccalaureate service itself.

    Fleck said in his report that many of the accusations and requests Ates made in his appeal were baseless.

    Homicide and politics

    Norma Jean Ates' murder investigation began with a flourish. Just days after the shooting occurred, lawmen were assuring reporters that they were making progress toward finding a killer.

    The race to solve the case quickly turned from a sprint to a marathon. Four years after the murder, Norma Jean Ates' body was exhumed for further study.

    Glen Barberree was the detective who led the investigation. Barberree, who has retired, said Friday, "I don't want to comment" on the case.

    The investigation also devolved into a political hot potato. Norma Ates' uncle, W. C. "Buck" Bryan, had connections that extended to the office of then-Gov. Lawton Chiles, several sources close to the case have said.

    Bryan, Ates said, wanted him tried and convicted after Ates began dating a former student, later his second wife, not long after Norma's death.

    "Just because I started dating a young girl, they turned on me," he said of Norma's family.

    Curtis Golden, who was the state attorney in the First Judicial Circuit at the time of the murder, confirmed he was at a political event when Bryan chided him for failing to prosecute Jimmy Ates. Chiles also was there.

    Golden said he responded by telling Bryan he didn't feel there was enough evidence to successfully prosecute. Golden eventually recused himself, he said, when Bryan and others implied a cozy relationship between Golden and Ates' brother, Luther.

    The case was transferred from the 1st Judicial Circuit to the 4th Judicial Circuit in Jacksonville. That circuit also declined to prosecute because of a lack of evidence, Golden confirmed.

    Rod Smith, the state attorney in the 8th Judicial District, agreed at Chiles' request to take the case. Smith would later run for governor.
    Smith won the case with evidence that all parties acknowledged was primarily circumstantial.

    Ten years ago, the trial of Jimmy Ates elicited strong feelings on both sides. Today, many people who were contacted to comment on the case declined to do so and said they wished the case would just go away.

    Bryan, who perhaps pushed harder than anyone to see Ates convicted, has since passed away. His wife, Joyce Bryan, although hesitant to speak, has not changed her opinion of Ates' guilt.

    "Oh sure he's guilty. He may get out, but he's guilty," she said. "He was there when she was murdered."

    Glenda Tharp, Ates' newly remarried ex-wife, continues to maintain his innocence.

    "I still support him with all my heart," she said. "I want to see him walk out of that jail."

    In Michael Mordenti too

    State versus Mordenti, in Florida: 'It's my opinion that all of
    those bullets came from the same box of ammunition.' Is that
    supported by the science?" Kroft asks.

    "The science never supported such a statement," Adams replies.

    "But this was the testimony that was given by people in the lab for
    30 years," Kroft points out.

    "You know, I'm sure as you have found that that is the case in
    some cases. But the science does not support that," Adams says.
    "This kind of testimony was misleading and inappropriate in
    criminal trials."

    "Did you order a review on all the cases in which this testimony
    had been given?" Kroft asks.

    Kathleen Lundy testified in Robert Trease

    Based Upon New Evidence of Junk Science and Innocence (hereinafter “Innocence
    Motion) on April 7, 2008, raising this FBI lead analysis issue.
    metallurgy testified to by the expert FBI agent.
    Kathleen Lundy testified at trial that she had been a scientist for the
    FBI for eleven years specializing in compositional analysis of bullets and shot
    pellet lead. She had a Bachelor of Science in metallurgy and had taken
    graduate courses as well, and she had daily training and other course,
    conference and seminar attendance. She said that she had testified before as
    an expert, and explained the so-called science of her field. Trial transcript,
    pp. 2412-16. She explained that she was able to tell by testing whether bullets
    had the same elemental composition which would suggest that they were
    manufactured at the same time and place and could end up in the same
    “boxes.” Trial transcript at 2414.
    She then testified that the bullet fragments found at the scene matched a
    bullet removed from a 9 mm Glock pistol in Mr. Trease’s possession. She
    testified that the fragments and the bullet were “analytically
    indistinguishable” and were manufactured from the same source of lead.
    Trial transcript 2421. Thus, Mr. Trease’s gun, loaded with these bullets, shot
    the victim.
    The State argued to the jurors that this metallurgy corroborated Hope
    Siegel. The prosecutor argued that the bullet that killed the victim was fired
    from “that gun....The FBI told you that. You heard the metallurgy.” Trial
    transcript at 2704 (emphasis added). The prosecutor argued that “Hope Siegel
    testified truthfully.....everything she said we could corroborate.” Trial transcript at
    2699. He continued:
    It’s corroborated by what was found in her car. Remember this shell
    casing was found underneath the seat of her pickup truck. This shell
    casing is a Federal brand which the FBI told you was the brand used
    to kill Mr. Edenson, and this shell casing was fired from this weapon.
    This shell casing was found in her car, again, evidence of
    Id. at 2700.
    In fact, we now know that the “metallurgy” corroborated nothing. It has
    now been revealed that the FBI has not just discontinued the use of what is called
    compositional bullet lead analysis (CBLA), but in fact recognized that the finding
    of a compositional match between a lead fragment and a box of bullets has no

    The lower court refused to consider this new evidence.

    Cody Davis - Florida

    Cody Davis
    Cody Davis

    Incident Date: 2/27/06

    Jurisdiction: FL

    Charge: Robbery

    Conviction: Robbery

    Sentence: 3 Years

    Year of Conviction: 2006

    Exoneration Date: 3/9/07

    Sentence Served: 5 Months

    Real perpetrator found? Yes

    Contributing Causes: Eyewitness Misidentification

    Compensation? Not Yet

    Five months after he was convicted of robbery, Cody Davis was exonerated by DNA testing. The evidence was sent to the crime lab at the time of the crime, but because it was not readily apparent that the evidence would be probative, it was not prioritized. Once Davis’ evidence worked its way through the crime laboratory testing backlog, it proved his innocence.

    The Crime
    On February 27, 2006, a Caucasian man robbed Foster’s Too, a bar in West Palm Beach, Florida, at gunpoint, forcing the bartender to give him money from the bar’s cash register.

    The Identification
    During the investigation, police were told that Cody Davis had been bragging about committing robberies around the time of the crime. Two witnesses to the robbery subsequently identified Davis in a photo lineup. However, one witness remembered a tattoo on the robber’s hand, which Davis did not have.

    The Biological Evidence
    Police found a ski mask outside of the bar, but it was not considered evidence because none of the eyewitnesses reported the robber with a ski mask. The mask was still turned over to the sheriff’s laboratory for testing, but it was not given testing priority. Therefore, without the testing completed, Davis went to trial. His attorney, Sim Gershon, was never informed that the mask was undergoing testing. On October 16, 2006, a jury convicted Davis based on the testimony of the eyewitnesses and the informant.

    Four months after Davis' conviction, the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office Crime Laboratory completed testing on the ski mask found in the bar, and found another man’s profile. The profile was compared to a DNA database, and the profile matched Jeremy Prichard, who was in jail awaiting trial on unrelated charges. Prichard has a distinctive tattoo on his hand, similar to the one that the eyewitness recalled. When investigators questioned Prichard, he confessed to the Foster’s Too robbery, as well as three other bar robberies. The District Attorney’s Office immediately moved to have Davis released, and he walked out of prison in early 2007.

    Sunday, December 28, 2008

    Central Florida Pornography Investigation Results In Arrest Of Former Missionary

    December 28, 2008 7:32 a.m. EST

    Ayinde O. Chase - AHN Editor

    Deltona, Fl (AHN) - A central Florida child-pornography investigation has resulted in an a former missionary being indicted. Investigators say the man had more than 6,000 pictures and 250 video clips on his computer of children engaging in sexual activity.

    An eight-month investigation by law enforcement resulted in the arrest last week of 36-year-old Joel Price of Deltona. Price has subsequently resigned from his job at an Orlando area New Tribes Mission.

    "Investigators believe Price downloaded all of the images from the Internet and did not have sexual contact with any children or take any of the pictures," according to spokesman Gary Davidson. Authorities uncovered Price downloaded pornographic images but did not take the pictures or have sexual contact with any of the children seen on his computer. A spokeswoman for New Tribes Mission said Price resigned from his position as a youth pastor earlier this year, possibly because of the investigation.

    This recent incident marks the second time in two years someone associated with New Tribes, whose missionary work reaches tribal communities, has been in legal trouble.

    In December 2006, George Allen Goolde -- a foster parent and full-time mission employee -- was arrested and charged with molesting four children in his care. Goolde was convicted and is now serving a 50-year prison sentence.

    Man, wrongfully imprisoned in '06, avoids long sentence for latest run-in


    Palm Beach Post Staff Writer

    Saturday, December 27, 2008

    WEST PALM BEACH — There he was again in the criminal courtroom, another in a long line of anonymous accused.

    There he was, recognizable by the tattoo on the left side of his neck: "Cody," his name in swirly script.

    The tattoo that linked him to a barroom robbery, to his conviction for it, to an extraordinary break in the case that proved his innocence - making him one of only nine men in Florida exonerated by DNA.

    Victims identified Cody Davis, 23, as the man with a tattoo on his neck who held up the Foster's Too pub on Okeechobee Boulevard in 2006.

    But he wasn't.

    What he was: a victim of suggestive police procedures and mistaken eyewitness identification, far and away the leading cause of wrongful convictions in the United States.

    Davis is one of 226 people in the nation exonerated by DNA, as documented by the Innocence Project.

    Yet there he was, pleading guilty to firearm charges, headed back to prison.

    But when time came for his sentencing this month, there was another extraordinary break in store for Davis.

    Ultimate justice, if you will.

    But first, his wrongful conviction.

    After Foster's was robbed in February 2006, employees reported that a gunman - a white male with short black hair and a tattoo on his neck - held them up and ran out with the cash register.

    They recalled a tattoo on his neck, one saying it looked like Chinese characters, another remembering a tattoo on the gunman's hand. They gave different accounts of the robber's size.

    Davis - already a felon with a pack of prior arrests, mostly for drugs - was no stranger to law enforcement. His name was first mentioned to sheriff's investigators by an informant who knew Davis from the street and told deputies they should check him out.

    Investigators put together a photo lineup. Six mug shots included Davis, who was the only one with a tattoo distinctly visible on his neck.

    A lineup clearly suggestive of him.

    A lineup clearly in violation of Department of Justice guidelines designed to help quell the rising swarm of mistaken IDs.

    Investigators showed it to the Foster's bartender. She pointed right to Davis, declaring: "That's definitely him."

    There was no physical evidence in Davis' trial, just employees' eyewitness IDs.

    Defense attorney Sim Gershon attacked the discrepancies in their descriptions of the gunman, argued Davis had no tattoo on his hand, and the tattoo on his neck didn't look like Chinese characters. Davis had an alibi: He was with family that night and had nothing to do with the crime, his attorney said.

    Yet jurors convicted Davis of robbery in October 2006, and he was sentenced to three years in prison.

    "We were in shock and greatly disappointed," Gershon said. "From the first day in my office, he always said he didn't do it, and I believed him."

    'We may have the wrong guy'

    Serendipity was already afoot, though.

    Months before, sheriff's investigators had sent out for DNA testing of a gray ski mask found in an alley near Foster's. It was not introduced by prosecutors at Davis' trial because the robber had not worn it during the holdup there.

    Detective Kyle Haas requested that Cody Davis' DNA be compared with the ski mask results as he investigated the robbery of a nearby Dollar General on the same night as the one at Foster's. The Dollar General robber had worn the mask.

    Haas was familiar with the Foster's robbery, but did not arrest Davis or compose the photo lineup.

    Four months after Davis went to prison, Haas got the mask results: Cody Davis' DNA was not on it.

    But the Florida Department of Law Enforcement reported a match. From its massive repository of criminals' DNA samples, it matched the mask DNA to 35-year-old Jeremy Prichard's DNA.

    Haas looked at Prichard's mug shot.

    "Lo and behold, he had a tattoo on the left side of his neck," Haas said. "I was like 'Wow! There cannot be a coincidence like that.''"

    Prichard's tattoo says "No Fear" in jagged letters that could be construed as Chinese.

    Haas immediately called then-Assistant State Attorney Shannon Rountree, who had prosecuted Davis.

    "It was very unnerving for both of us ... that 'Hey, we may have the wrong guy in prison,' " Haas said.

    They decided Haas should interview Prichard. Quickly.

    Haas visited him on March 8, 2007, at the Martin County jail.

    Where serendipity was afoot as well.

    Everyone has a tatoo in new lineup

    Prichard confessed to a string of robberies that day, including the one that landed Cody Davis in prison.

    The next day, March 9, prosecutors dropped the charge against Davis.

    And the day after that, he walked out of prison.

    "I guess happy endings do happen sometimes," he told a reporter at the time.

    The sheriff's investigators made some new lineups for the Foster's robbery victims.

    This time, everyone in the lineup had a tattoo on his neck.

    The bartender picked out Prichard as the robber.

    "It questions the value of eyewitness identification. It really does," Gershon said. "You are so sure, but then you see a picture of somebody else and are convinced it's him, too."

    Prichard later pleaded guilty to the Foster's robbery and others and is serving seven years in prison.

    Haas said it felt good to right the wrong.

    "Cody Davis is no angel, but he definitely should not serve time in prison for something he didn't do," he said.

    Haas, now a road patrol sergeant, said the wrongful conviction of Davis has led him to caution the deputies he trains about eyewitness identification and to give long pause in cases where the only evidence is one person identifying another.

    "We know it's happened in the past and may still happen in the future," Haas said.

    Run-ins with law continue

    The happy ending did not last.

    In April of this year, police arrested Davis outside E.R. Bradley's restaurant in West Palm Beach.

    His brother, a Bradley's employee, had reported Davis, a felon, had a handgun and was parked outside the restaurant.

    The two had argued earlier at home, and Davis had shot a silver revolver at their grandparents' vehicle, his brother told police.

    When officers approached Davis, he consented to a search of the car. They found a bag of pot, the anti-anxiety medication Xanax and a silver revolver in the glove box, according to a police record.

    He told police the gun was not his, but admitted firing it earlier in the day.

    They charged him with felon in possession of a firearm.

    Less than three weeks later, Lake Worth police arrested Davis again. They were called to a scene where a man had been beaten with a tire iron. The man said Davis had pointed a gun at him and demanded money, then beat him about the head and shoulders.

    Davis, arrested nearby, told police he had been supplying the man with crack cocaine, that the man had first pulled the gun out and he had responded in self-defense, grabbing the gun from him.

    Whichever way, Davis was looking at prison.

    But he would never, ever go to trial again, under any circumstances, even if he was innocent, Davis has said. No, not after one wrongful conviction.

    In November, Davis pleaded guilty and guilty-in-his-best-interest to two counts of felon in possession of a firearm.

    Circuit Judge Lucy Chernow Brown sentenced him to 15 years in prison, but then released Davis on a furlough until 8:30 a.m. Dec. 11. If he reported back to court having committed no new crimes, she would reduce his sentence to 20 months.

    During the furlough, Davis married his girlfriend, Kayleigh Molloy, 19, at the courthouse.

    Well before 8:30 a.m. Dec. 11, they came to court, along with his sister and mother, clutching each other in the hallway, crying.

    Davis spoke with his public defender, Marie Calla. He told her that during the furlough he had been pulled over by police for running a stop sign and was cited for driving with a suspended license, which he didn't know he had.

    A new crime, which could trigger up to a 15-year sentence.

    In the packed courtroom that morning, Calla negotiated with a prosecutor who decided Davis should serve a 36-month sentence instead. More than a year tacked on in an instant.

    Calla minced no words as she asked Judge Brown to keep Davis' sentence at 20 months. "It's a begging situation," she said, but did not mention at all Davis' wrongful conviction.

    His mother, Debbie Giuffra, watched from the back row of the courtroom, her hands folded as if in prayer, visibly shaking.

    Brown is a stickler for people obeying orders of the court, and those who don't rarely get a benefit of the doubt.

    But in that instant she judged Davis' case, having no idea of his wrongful conviction, and she gave him an extraordinary break.

    "I believe you didn't know your license was suspended," she told him and ordered his sentence kept to 20 months.

    Handing back to Davis far more time than was robbed from him originally.

    Ultimate justice, if you will.

    No anger, no resentment

    But why was Cody Davis back there at all?

    Was he not scared straight?

    Those are questions he doesn't want to answer, he said during a recent jail interview.

    Questions with no easy answer.

    But Davis did say this: He has no anger, no resentment toward the jury or the system.

    "It was all just a mistake," Davis said of his wrongful conviction. "People make mistakes. I make mistakes."

    That, and he would like to thank Judge Brown.

    He said he wants to put it all behind him, focus on finishing his sentence, getting out, starting a family with his new wife.

    Who also has a tattoo on her neck.

    "Cody" in swirly script.

    Seemingly unmistakable.