Fishback stories as told by a Prisoner at Sussex II
Inmate# 1004406 Adam Davis
Hello my name is Adam Davis. I am currently serving a life sentence plus 233 years for a home invasion that I did not participate in. I received this sentence from a jury in 1998 after parole was abolished but before the Va Supreme Court ruled that it was unconstitutional not to instruct the jury that parole would not be available. I was barely 18 years old at the time. I was part of the discussions about the burglary but did not go into the house or participate in the burglary. I have spent the last 19 years in prison and have done the best I can with that amount of time to serve. I was convicted during a joint trial with the gunmen who entered the home, and the jury was not told that parole in Va had been abolished just 3 years prior.
The short version of the facts are that some people that I knew and some people I didn't know came up with a plan to rob a house where they believed there was money, guns, and drugs. During the burglary, one of the gunmen shot and killed one of the residents. I was present during the discussions about the burglary but did not go into the house or participate in the burglary. All of the defendant's who were charged were tried together, including two of three gunmen.
I was the youngest of the four charged. The two gunmen were 25 years old, and another codefendant was 23. I was only 18 by three months.
At the time of these crimes I was barely 18 years old. I was living a life style that I had no idea would end up the way it did. I always saw myself as a good person. Never realizing that I was spiraling down. To me I was just going with the flow. As an adult I have learned the consequences of actions. I speak regularly to my children, who are now the same age as I was when I came to prison, about understanding the way your decisions have a major impact on your life, as well as the people around you. How in an instant you can find your self in a situation that you could never have predicted.
I understand how growing up without a father can affect a young person. My father passed away when I was very young, I was not mature enough to realize that my environment had an effect on me until it was to late.
I was an adolescent ( just barely 18 years old) making grownup decisions without the tools to make them.
(Juvenile life without parole: An overview) Justice Kagan noted that adolescence is marked by "immaturity, impetuosity, and failure to appreciate risks and consequences", all factors that limit an adolescents ability to make sound judgments.
Because of the differences between juveniles and adults, juveniles are no longer sentenced to life without parole. Even though I was not technically a juvenile when the incident occurred, I was barely an adult, and this should be considered.
Even considering the Commonwealth's best evidence at trial, my involvement in the ultimate crimes committed by the gunmen was peripheral at best. Even if I did discuss a potential robbery, the Commonwealth's evidence demonstrated that it was another person that enlisted the services of the gunmen. Whom I never knew or spoke to before we where sitting in court. The three gunmen, already determined to commit a robbery, committed the actual crimes. There was not one shred of evidence to demonstrate that I had any idea that the gunmen would commit a murder during the course of the robbery.
I was prejudiced by the joiner of this case. Not just at the trial. But especially in the sentencing phase.. In Barnes v. Commonwealth, the court recognized that prejudice may result from the joinder of codefendants "in a complex case where the co-defendants exhibit markedly different degrees of culpability.
In this case I was sentenced to LIFE PLUS 233 years. All of those charged received similar sentences. This is common when codefendants are tried together. I was the least culpable and should not have been sentenced the same as the gunmen that entered the house and committed the crimes.
JUSTICE: the administration of what is just.
JUST: good, informed level-headed, logical, rational, reasonable, sensible, sober, valid, well-founded, due, right, appropriate.
In my case justice was not served. It is not lost on me that a persons life was taken. And there should be justice in that as well. The sentence that I received reflects none of the attributes that define justice. For a person to receive a sentence that means he spends the rest of his life in prison for crimes he held such a small role in is the definition of injustice. I ask that you please consider my case and cases like mine when you are deciding if you will support this cause. Please support SB 100 and correct the injustices that have effected me and many others. Thank you for your time.
NOTE from the Coalition SB100 was defeated by Senate (19-Y 20-N) on 1/24/18. We have work to do in 2019. We came close. It isn't fast or easy but we have to keep organizing.