David Flores’ Bittersweet Christmas

UPDATED 1/4/2010: As Predicted Here, Iowa Attorney General Appeals Lower Courts’ Reversal Of Flores’ Murder Conviction

The double standard here is the fact the State of Iowa will also file a motion in the Iowa Supreme Court to stay the proceedings in the Polk County Court, pending the appeal. What this effectively would do is take away Mr. Flores’ possibility of being granted bond, and subsequently released from prison. Of course, when a defendant appeals a lower court ruling, they are rarely (virtually never) released from the adverse circumstances of a conviction pending appeal. We’ll keep updating the story as we learn more.

by Brian A. Wilkins

Mr. David Flores

There are a couple of items which must preface this article (in a matter of full disclosure). First, as most of you know, I am from central Iowa, lived in Des Moines for several years, and many family and friends still live there. I know Mr. David Flores because Des Moines is not a very big town, but do not know him well (my brother Claude and the Flores brothers are all good friends). Second, and most importantly, I will quote the U.S. Supreme Court’s 1935 decision in Berger v. United States, when the court ruled that there is an established principle that the interest of the State in a criminal prosecution “is not that it shall win a case, but that justice shall be done.” Polk County prosecutors, like a vast majority of their counterparts nationwide, continue to ignore this long-established principle in the interest of persecution.

Mr. Flores’ life would forever change on April 8, 1996 when Ms. Phyllis Davis was murdered near the Oakridge housing project, just north of downtown Des Moines, which at that time, was considered one of the most dangerous areas in the state. Ms. Davis, a bank worker, got caught in the wrong place at the wrong time; a time when Des Moines had a rash of gun violence.

Mr. Jody Stokes, another man I’d known (but not well), was killed in October 1995, which triggered a string of shootings in the area. Mr. Stokes was a high-ranking Crips gang member, and Mr. Flores and he were friends. Incredibly, this circumstantial fact, along with a few others, were enough for Polk County prosecutors to convict a man of a murder he did not commit.

During the trial, several witnesses told the jury that the shooter was “black” (obviously, Flores is Latino). There was never a murder weapon found and there was no physical evidence placing Flores at the scene of the crime. This does not matter in United States jurisprudence, as Flores was found guilty of murder and sentenced to life in prison on April 16, 1997; because Flores happened to drive an SUV which fit the description of the one witnesses said the bullets that killed Ms. Davis came from. It should also be noted that three days after the verdict was read, the jury foreman even
voiced his displeasure with the verdict, saying he believed Flores was innocent.

This week, after the State of Iowa has already stolen 13 years from Mr. Flores’ life (with all due respect to the family of Ms. Davis), Polk County District Court judge Don Nickerson
vacated the murder conviction and granted Flores a new trial, based on several pieces of evidence. Watch a report from KCCI TV-8 in Des Moines, when Flores’ attorney presented the new, exculpatory evidence back in March of this year.

The vacating of the murder conviction would seem to a reasonable person to have been inevitable, but again, this is the United States, which has no justice system; only an imprisonment system. The Des Moines Police withheld from Flores’ original attorney a police report which contains potentially exculpatory evidence (the original judge also allowed this report from the Des Moines Register newspaper to be stricken from the court record, even though it is a public record). Judge Nickerson ruled this week that there is credible testimony which points to another man, Rafael Robinson, as the actual murderer. Robinson is now dead.

So now Mr. Flores and his family must play the game, as the Polk County Attorney’s Office will do anything in their power to uphold his conviction, regardless of the facts. Underfederal law, which is similar to Iowa rules of criminal procedure, once a conviction has been overturned, the defendant can file a motion for bail, which could free Flores within the next few months. In fact, even if Polk County appeals the judge’s decision (which is inevitable), Flores should still be able to get bail, pending the appeal. The least likely scenario, because of the case’s age, is that Flores will have a new trial within the next couple months. Polk County will likely try and offer Flores some sort of time-served plea agreement and free him from prison if they fail on appeal (which I’d highly advise Flores not to sign). If that does not work, the persecutors will then be forced to drop the charges completely.

The sickening part of this is the fact many people blindly declare Mr. Flores should be happy because of the events of the past couple days. However, this man has already lived through 13 years of hell for a crime he obviously did not commit. Mr. Flores was convicted of a serious crime based on circumstantial evidence, which is further proof that the Eleventh Amendment (absolute immunity from civil or criminal liability for rogue prosecutors, judge, and cops) must be repealed. As long as prosecutors and judges know they will not have to take responsibility for their action, no matter how egregious, Americans will continue to be put through this system with only one goal in mind: conviction.

Regardless, props to Judge Nickerson for doing his part in upholding the U.S. Constitution, and to Waterloo (IA) lawyer Mary Kennedy and private investigator Anne Danaher, both of whom did much of the early research in this case (and who both also did muc
h of the leg work
in the cases of Terry Harrington and Curtis McGhee, whom were both released from an Iowa prison after 25 years for a crime they did not commit).

We’ll continue to update this story until Mr. Flores walks out of prison.

One thought on “David Flores’ Bittersweet Christmas

  1. Melissa

    In reading this, I am glad to see that finally Truth is coming out. From the time I saw this on the TV.I knew something was wrong. It wasn’t complete and it seams as if the county attorney and TV 8 has given their our opinion and that is how I see it . I know that this system is so broken that I don’t know if it will ever be fixed. David I am praying for you and your freedom!


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