After 32 years behind bars, Andre Davis was freed in 2012. But Davis’ struggle with the Illinois legal system isn’t over yet.
In 1982, Davis was sentenced to 80 years in prison without parole for the rape and murder of three year old Brianna Stickle. Davis never plead guilty to the charges, but he was charged nevertheless on the shaky grounds of two witness testimonies. Blood and semen were collected from the crime scene, but no DNA analysis was ever performed. Davis was thrown into prison, adamant he was innocent but unsure if he would ever be able to prove his case.
He received a letter from a woman in 1992. The woman identified herself as Judy Stickel, the aunt of the girl Davis was accused of raping and murdering. “Tell me what happened,” the letter said. “I have doubts. I can help you.”
Davis was skeptical of Stickel’s intentions at first, but after some time he began to write back. Stickel began contacting police departments, detectives, and attorneys that were involved in Davis’ conviction. After almost two decades of research, Stickel contacted the Northwestern University Center for Wrongful Convictions. The center agreed to take on Davis’ case.
The center was able to get Davis a retrial. In 2005, a DNA analysis was performed on the blood and semen collected from Brianna Stickle’s body in 1982. Davis’ DNA was nowhere to be found. But the DNA of Maurice Tucker, one of the men who testified against Davis in his original trial, matched. Even after the DNA evidence seemed to declare Davis innocent, it took the Illinois judicial system seven years to release Davis from prison.
He spent 32 years in prison, the longest ever of any Illinois inmate to be released because of a wrongful conviction. Now Davis is suing the Rantoul, Illinois Chief of Police, several Rantoul police officers, the Illinois Department of Law Enforcement, and a doctor from Burnham City Hospital for fabricating, coercing, and suggesting false evidence against him.
"While I am happy to be free with my innocence established by the courts, I feel that those who are responsible for robbing me of the best years of my life should be held legally responsible for doing me so terribly wrong," Davis said.
Davis’ legal team submitted the lawsuit five days ago.
“The DNA typing revealed that two men, neither of whom is [Davis], left semen deposits on top of Brianna Stickle’s blood at the time of the crime. One of these men was identified as Maurice Tucker and the other is currently unknown,” the suit says.
“During his incarceration, [Davis] missed out on the ability to share holidays, births, funerals and other life events with loved ones, the opportunity to have girlfriends, to fall in love, to marry, and to pursue a career, and the fundamental freedom to live one’s life an an autonomous human being.”
The Illinois Department of Justice has not released a statement on Davis’ trial at this time.