EL DORADO COUNTY (CBS SF) — The man originally convicted in a 35-year-old Northern California murder case will soon go free due to new DNA evidence.
The case dates back to 1985 when 54-year old newspaper columnist Jane Anker Hylton was discovered dead in an El Dorado hills home.
Deputies first pinned Hylton’s housemate Ricky Davis as an early suspect. He was eventually charged with the murder in 2005 and sentenced to 16 years in prison. But Davis has maintained his innocence all along.
On Thursday, officials confirmed that Davis never committed the crime.
“In all confidence, he did not commit this crime and was not responsible for it. Instead, there is another individual who is now in custody,” El Dorado County District Attorney Vern Pierson.
Prosecutors said genetic genealogy helped investigators to determine the DNA belongs to one of the teenage boys Hylton’s daughter testified she was with in a park the night of the murder.
The Northern California Innocence Project intervened in Davis’ case in 2018. They used advanced genetic technology and stronger investigative questioning techniques.
They found the previous questioning methods likely forced a false confession out of Davis and that he wasn’t a match for the genetic material found at the crime scene.
The NCIP is a leader in using new DNA evidence to re-evaluate crimes. They say new findings exclude Davis as the potential killer.
In 1985, the victim’s then 13-year old daughter was found at the scene by El Dorado sheriff’s deputies. She named three potential suspects by first name only. Investigators have located the suspects and are following the case further.
Davis’ murder conviction was reversed last year, but he is currently listed as “awaiting a removal order.” All charges against Davis have been dropped.
The Sacramento Bee reports that Davis is expected to be formally released later Thursday after processing.