David Flores released from prison pending new trial

David Flores was released from the Polk County jail yesterday, more than two years after a Polk County district judge ordered a new murder trial for him.  

Flores was convicted in 1997 for the shooting death of Phyllis Davis in 1996, but no physical evidence linked him to the crime, and a lengthy investigation by the Des Moines Register turned up plenty of reasons to question his conviction.

Seven people largely debunked the shooting scenario laid out by prosecutors in 1997, who contended Flores was alone in a sport utility vehicle when bank executive Phyllis Davis was shot to death. Three of the people who cast doubt were men in the other car involved.

In addition, three independent witnesses linked someone else to the accidental shooting of Davis, and prosecutors withheld an FBI report pointing to that other suspect from Flores’ defense attorneys.

Although much of this exculpatory evidence was in the public domain in the summer of 2008, Flores had to wait until December 2009 for a judge to order a new murder trial for him.  The Iowa Court of Appeals upheld that ruling in the spring of 2011. I don’t understand why it took so long for Flores to be released pending his new trial. Lee Rood reported in today’s Des Moines Register,

Flores, who faces a new trial May 7 in the slaying of bank executive Phyllis Davis, embraced his tearful parents and longtime friends outside the jail about 9:30 a.m. Friday. A Winterset bail bond company was able to secure enough cash and collateral to post 10 percent of Flores’ hefty $500,000 bond.

Flores’ backers, mostly from the inner city, exhibited uncommon faith in the innocence of the former Fort Madison State Penitentiary inmate. They raised cash, sold a car and signed over equity in their homes to see him freed before trial. Several came to the jail as early as midnight Thursday, when the family had hoped to have him released with little fanfare. A paperwork glitch kept Flores behind bars until Friday morning.

“I’m tired of what I’ve been through, and more than that I’m tired of what my family has been through,” Flores, 35, said. “I want to go in there and prove my innocence.”

Flores said the one thought driving his fight for freedom more than any other was the desire to spend time with his 16-year-old son. David Flores Jr. was an infant when his father was convicted in 1997 in connection with the gunfight in traffic that left Davis dead.

In fact, Flores doesn’t need to prove his innocence. The burden is on the prosecution to prove his guilt beyond all reasonable doubt. It doesn’t reflect well on our legal system that someone convicted under questionable circumstances spent nearly two and a half additional years behind bars after a judge found compelling reasons to order a new trial.

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