Judge throws out attempted murder charges against Mobile man accused of shooting at cops
MOBILE, Ala. (WALA) - A judge Tuesday ruled prosecutors do not have sufficient evidence to keep a man locked up on attempted murder charges in connection with shots fired at a pair of police officers.
Mobile County District Judge Zackery Moore’s ruling at a preliminary hearing means that Valeido Davidson will be released from Mobile County Metro Jail, although prosecutors could still present the case to a grand jury.
“These cases always have an emotional edge,” the judge said from the bench,
Nonetheless, Moore said, prosecutors did not meet their burden of showing probable cause that Davidson committed the crime.
Mobile County Chief Assistant District Attorney Keith Blackwood told FOX10 News police will continue to investigate this case. He said it is premature to say whether prosecutors will present the charges to a grand jury, but he added that is a definite possibility.
“That’s not the end of it,” he said. “And you know, that’s why it’s called a preliminary hearing.”
The judge did allow prosecutors to move forward with attempted murder charges against Davidson’s co-defendant, Tymetrick Devonte James.
Davidson’s attorney, ChaLea Tisdale, said she does not believe there would be any point in seeking an indictment at this point.
“They could, but the evidence is not going to change,” she said. “I would anticipate at trial having the same outcome if they chose to (indict). I mean, my client didn’t do it. It’s just that simple. … I mean, you can’t create something that’s not there.”
Chase Dearman, an attorney for James, expressed disappointment with the ruling. He said the evidence arguably was stronger against Davidson.
“I think a bigger piece of evidence is the fact that the co-defendant – there was absolutely no question, he was present, at the scene of the shooting,” he told FOX10 News.
The incident occurred on Sept. 20 in what Police Chief Paul Prime at the time called an “unprovoked attack.” According to testimony at the preliminary hearing, police responded to shots detected by the city’s ShotSpotter system at R.V. Taylor Plaza.
Prosecutors alleged that gunmen opened fire in the 1600 block of Flicker Drive in the direction of a pair of officers. Neither was hurt.
According to a detective’s testimony on Tuesday, one of the officers later reported that Davidson looked like one of the men who fired the shots. Police also later found his driver’s license in car near where the gunmen fired.
Davison’s attorney, ChaLea Tisdale, argued in court that the officer’s report that Davidson looks like the shooter does not amount to a confirmed identification. She noted that it was based, in part, on a description of the shooter as a tall, skinny male.
“That could be any number of people in Mobile,” she said. “I mean, that could have been anyone. That could have been Mr. Dearman. He’s tall and skinny.”
Tisdale told FOX10 News that it is unremarkable that her client’s driver’s license was in a nearby car because it belongs to the mother of his children.
“He had been in the car earlier,” she said. “There was every reason for him to be there. They said that he was on scene. Again, his children’s mother lives there. So he was where he was supposed to be.”
It is rare that cases get stalled at this stage – particularly in high-profile cases involving serious charges. But Blackwood said those decisions are “evidence-based,” not “charge-based.” He said the DA’s Office will take a deliberative approach
“I’m sure we’ll be meeting with the investigating officers, as well as the law enforcement that were, you know, the victims of this attempted murder. And, you know, we’ll see where the investigation goes, and then we’ll make that determination.”
The evidence connecting James to the shooting is a gun found across the street from where the officers were. The testimony indicates that the defendant’s fingerprints were found on the gun clip. But Dearman pointed out that no one has reported seeing his client with the gun or even placed him on the street at the time of the shooting.
“There has not been a single witness … that saw Mr. Tymetrick James on the scene,” he said.
Added Dearman: “A fingerprint found on a clip is not sufficient to show probable cause for attempting to kill two police officers.”
The judge granted a bond to James, who had been held without bail because of an earlier municipal court charge of having a pistol without a permit. The total bail is $115,000, with a requirement that $5,750 be put up in cash. That’s in keeping with Moore’s policy that a percentage of bonds be cash in charges involving guns. And if James makes bond, he will be under house arrest and must wear an electronic monitoring device.
Dearman objected to the cash requirement, calling it “punitive” in nature.
“That is directly contradictory to the rules of criminal procedure, which requires judges to make those decisions on a case-by-case basis,” he said.
Updated at 4:03 p.m. with comments from Mobile County Chief Assistant District Attorney Keith Blackwood.
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