As GPS tracking has become more entrenched in everyday life, lawmakers have struggled with reconciling the technology with personal rights to privacy. For one Baltimore man, mandatory GPS tracking may turn out to be literally a lifesaver.
In 2010, 22-year-old Lamont Davis was found guilty of a shooting during an incident on July 2 the previous year. An argument between teenagers eventually led to a fight that included gunshots. Tragically, a five-year-old girl was left paralyzed, a fact that further enraged the community.
Davis, who had fathered two children with one of the teenagers, was identified as the shooter by an eyewitness. The trial monopolized local news headlines and resulted in Davis receiving a prison sentence of life plus 30 years.
However, his lawyers had offered what they thought was an ironclad alibi: the ankle monitor Davis had been wearing due to a juvenile offense proved that he was actually home at the time of the incident. A police detective testified that the device was recording on a two-hour delay, seemingly explaining the discrepancy.
Numerous experts came forth to disagree. Donald W. DeVore, head of the Department of Juvenile Services at the time, said the system was so accurate that the state renewed the contract to continue its use. The evidence was also refuted by a DJS monitoring expert who said photographs prove that the device was securely attached to Davis’ ankle.
Additionally, a forensic examiner concluded that the shooter was not wearing a tracking device. All three experts wrote letters to the prosecutor’s office supporting Davis and his new attorney’s efforts to have the conviction set aside.
Linwood Hedgepeth, the original lead defense attorney, has admitted that he and his co-counsel mishandled aspects of the trial. Efforts to free Davis are now being handled by a team including Michele Nethercott, head of the Innocence Project Clinic at the University of Baltimore’s law school.
So far, the only word from the prosecutor’s office is that the case is being reviewed. No matter which which way it goes, the final result is sure to have major repercussions for GPS tracking of individuals.
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