LOWELL (CBS) – Arthur Davis was found guilty on March 25, 1986, a then 19- year-old Lowell man who told police he was the killer of 23-year-old Patricia Richard whose partially nude body was found badly beaten outside Lowell City Hall nearly one year earlier.
“Mr. Davis was young, mentally disordered, he had a personality that was attention seeking. That combination was incredibly dangerous,” said Professor David Siegel of the New England Innocence Project.
Siegel has been on the case for nine years and says DNA testing that didn’t exist 33 years ago has now broken the forensic connection linking Arthur Davis to the victim. It prompted a judge to rule he’s entitled to a new trial.
“All the physical evidence in this case shows no connection whatsoever between the victim and Mr. Davis,” said Siegel.
A 2012 state law gives defendants a statutory right to have forensic evidence tested by current science if they can show they were possibly wrongly convicted. Investigators had said Patricia Richard’s blood soaked clothing scattered outside city hall was connected to blood they claimed was found on items including a pool cue, a possible murder weapon, inside Davis’ home.
But even a cigarette butt found at the murder scene was no match. “The cigarette butt found at the scene was found to have a male DNA profile from extracted saliva. But that profile excluded Mr. Davis,” said Siegel.
Even though prosecutors say he incriminated himself, Davis’ attorneys say he never signed a confession after a nine hour interrogation, and there’s no written or recorded record of the questioning. “I think travesty of justice is certainly one very accurate characterization.”
Siegel said they will now ask a judge to release Davis while the Middlesex County District Attorney’s office decides whether to appeal or move forward with a new trial.