After serving 15 years in prison for a crime he did not commit, Ricky Davis is a free man. This case not only highlights the kinds of techniques law enforcement can employ to wrangle false confessions out of witnesses, but it demonstrates how important DNA evidence can now be used in conjunction with ancestry registries.
A Murder 35 Years Ago in El Dorado Hills, CA
The case happened in El Dorado Hills, California, almost 35 years ago. Jane Hylton and her 13-year-old daughter had just moved into the house of Hylton's boss, Wilma Klein. Hylton had just left her husband. Also living in the house was Klein's grown daughter and her 22-year-old son, Ricky Davis, as well as Davis's girlfriend, Connie Dahl.
On the night of the murder, Davis and Dahl went out and returned home to find Hylton's daughter outside the house. She told them she had spent the evening with some boys she knew and was afraid to go inside because her mother was going to be upset with her. The three went into the house, and Davis saw blood in the upstairs hallway outside Hylton's room. He then found Hylton's body, and he and Dahl called 911. Hylton had been stabbed 29 times.
The initial investigation eventually cleared Davis and Dahl as well as Hylton's husband. The case went cold until 1999 when it was reopened.
When detectives reopened the case, they interviewed Connie Dahl four different times, using techniques that have been proven to lead to false confessions. Eventually, Dahl implicated Davis for the murder, admitted to witnessing the attack, and even confessed that she had bitten Hylton during the attack. Davis was arrested and convicted of second-degree murder in 2005—all based on Dahl's testimony. He was sentenced to 16 years in prison. Dahl served one year in a county jail for her involvement.
Northern California Innocence Project
After his conviction, Davis enlisted help from the Northern California Innocence Project (NCIP) to look into his case. NCIP was eventually able to test several pieces of evidence collected from the crime scene that had DNA material on them. The testing proved that not only was Davis's DNA not on any of the pieces of evidence, but it identified another unknown male as the source of the DNA. Through genetic genealogy, that man was eventually identified as Michael Green. He was one of the boys Hylton's daughter had been out with that evening in 1985. Green has since been arrested.
Criminal Defense is Essential in California
Davis is the first man in California's history to be exonerated by DNA evidence. And while he is free now, unfortunately, he will not be able to reclaim those 15 years of his life spent in prison. An experienced, aggressive attorney will fight to protect your rights and attack witness testimony that could have been coerced by the police. Contact the Sigal Law Group today to get started on defending your case.