Society

Man Finally Getting Justice After Serving 22 Years For Crime He Didn't Commit

| by Sarah Fruchtnicht

A Virginia man who was exonerated by DNA evidence after spending 22 years in prison for murder is suing the Newport News Police in federal court for allegedly withholding evidence.

David W. Boyce filed a suit against the lead detectives in his case, naming "various former and/or current Newport News Police Department officers.”

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Boyce was given two life sentences in 1991, when he was 20 years old, for the murder of his friend and roommate Timothy Kurt Askew.

Boyce was wrongfully convicted of the robbery and murder. He was exonerated when DNA evidence taken from a cigarette butt at the crime scene showed Askew had been murdered by someone else.

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The suit claims detectives Thomas Bennet and Patricia Montgomery, who led the murder investigation knowingly lied, misled witnesses and without evidence from Boyce’s defense attorneys.

Boyce claims the detectives concealed evidence, including a photograph of Boyce showing he had short hair on the day of the murder negating a hotel clerk's testimony that a man with long hair ran from scene.

"Defendants Bennett and Montgomery in the course of carrying out their investigative duties, intentionally and in bad faith, or in the alternative recklessly, withheld and concealed exculpatory and impeachment evidence from the Commonwealth's Attorney, and hence from Boyce and his Counsel, for the purpose of depriving Boyce of the use of that evidence at trial," the 69-page complaint states.

Boyce says they also convinced a convict to play “jail house snitch” and give false testimony against him.

"Faced with a likely dismissal of the case at the preliminary hearing stage, at the last minute the Newport News police managed to scrounge up a jail house snitch, who conveniently came forward only days before the preliminary hearing, to shore up the Commonwealth's case," the complaint states. "According to the informant, Boyce supposedly confessed to him months earlier while in jail awaiting trial. The snitch provided similar testimony at Boyce's trial."

"There were numerous reasons to doubt the credibility of the informant, including his multiple felony convictions, and the fact that his account was inconsistent in several material ways with the known facts of the crime,” the suit notes.

In 2004, evidence from the scene was DNA-tested and according to the suit, "Not only was no DNA from Boyce found, the presence of DNA from the person who must have murdered Askew was identified."

Boyce seeks $25 million in damages for constitutional violations, negligence and intentional infliction of emotional distress.

Sources: WVEC, Courthouse News Service