PLACERVILLE, Calif. — Prosecutors in Northern California will announce “major developments” Thursday in the case of a man whose conviction in the 1985 killing of his roommate was thrown out last year after the discovery of new DNA evidence.
Ricky Davis was convicted in 2005 of second-degree murder in the stabbing death of Jane Hylton, a 54-year-old columnist for the Foothills Times.
Hylton was found dead on July 7, 1985, inside an El Dorado Hills home, which she lived in with her teenage daughter, Davis and Davis’ then-girlfriend Connie Dahl.
Davis, 54, had always maintained his innocence and last year his murder conviction was reversed after the Northern California Innocence Project got involved and new DNA evidence of an unknown male was found on Hylton’s nightgown and under her fingernails. Davis remained in custody awaiting a new trial set for April.
Davis is expected to be released Thursday, lawyer Melissa O’Connell told the Sacramento Bee.
“We don’t know much right now, except we’re going to be in El Dorado County (Thursday) and we believe that Ricky’s going to be released from custody,” said O’Connnell, whose work with the Innocence Project helped lead to the original conviction being overturned. “But beyond that, we know very little.”
Davis, who was booked into the county jail last May to await his new trial, is now listed in online jail records as awaiting a “removal order” with his scheduled release date “to be determined.”
El Dorado County District Attorney Vern Pierson and Sacramento County District Attorney Anne Marie Schubert are expected to brief the media on new developments in the case.
Davis, then 20, lived in the house where she was slain, as did his 19-year-old girlfriend, Connie Dahl, according to the Innocence Project, which is part of the Santa Clara University School of Law.
Davis and Dahl told detectives they had gone to a party the night before and returned home at 3:30 a.m. where they found Hylton’s daughter waiting outside. The teenager told them she had gone out with a group of boys that night and was afraid her mother would be upset with her for being out too late, according to an online synopsis of the case by the project.
“The three entered the house together. Davis saw blood in the hallway outside the master bedroom and found Hylton’s body on the bed. Davis and Dahl immediately called 911 to report the crime. All three maintained they were not involved in the murder and did not know who committed the crime,” according to the project.
The case went unsolved until detectives reopened it in late 1999.
“Dahl ultimately changed her story for police and implicated Davis as the killer,” according to the project. “She also implicated herself in the crime, telling the police that she bit the victim during the attack.”
DNA test results revealed an unknown male DNA profile on the nightgown in the area of the bite mark and a consistent male DNA profile under the victim’s fingernails. The test results excluded Davis, Dahl and Hylton’s daughter as the sources of the DNA, the project said.
That led to the murder conviction being overturned in 2019 after project lawyers argued that “had the original jury heard the DNA results, it would have likely reached a different outcome,” the project synopsis says.
Dahl, who received a one-year county jail sentence in the case, died in 2014, according to the Mountain Democrat in Placerville, which followed the case extensively.
The Associated Press