Davis' attorney questions need to go to court

Rocco LaDuca

Toussaint Davis is facing 300 years to life in prison for his role in the February 2006 shooting death of New Hartford police Officer Joseph Corr, and he is standing trial again this week in Oneida County Court.

Davis' defense attorney is wondering why, as jury selection begins this morning for lesser charges related to Davis' use of the stolen name "John Healy" at the time of his arrest.

"I think of it as an academic exercise, which means we're going through the motions for no particular reason," Davis' attorney Rebecca Wittman said. "Whether he is acquitted or convicted, there's nothing that could possibly happen at this trial that makes any difference in the amount of time he can serve."

Prosecutors, however, feel there are two very good reasons why Davis, 39, of Philadelphia, should stand trial for charges of forgery and possessing two fake driver's licenses.

Clearing the real John Healy's name

When Davis was taken into custody moments after Corr was shot by another man behind Byrne Dairy in Kirkland, he told police his name was "John Healy" and signed that name to fingerprint cards.

The real John T. Healy is a 47-year-old man living in Lower Makefield, Pa., and he is expected to testify in front of Judge Michael L. Dwyer this week, Assistant District Attorney Kurt Hameline said.

"It's not so much about 'who cares?' The real John T. Healy cares," Hameline said. "It certainly has messed up his life. I think we owe it to him, as well as the general public, for us to pursue this."

While Davis was known as "John Healy," jurors found him guilty in January of second-degree murder and several robbery charges related to the $1 million heist at Lennon's-W.B. Wilcox jewelry store on Commercial Drive that led to Corr's death.

Guaranteeing more years in prison

Although Dwyer sentenced Davis to 300 years to life in prison in April, Hameline said there is real concern that an appellate court could overturn Dwyer's decision and reduce Davis' sentence to 25 years to life for Corr's death. That means Davis could still face possible parole within his lifetime.

"I expect that the sentence of 300 years to life can't withstand judicial scrutiny," Hameline said. "Depending on how the appellate division looks at the whole criminal transaction between the robbery and death, it is an open question as to what they will do with that sentence."

Dwyer imposed consecutive sentences for each of the jewelry store employees who were robbed by Davis and three other men that evening.

If Davis is found guilty of the identity-related charges after this week's trial, Davis could possibly face an additional 2 1/3 to 7 years in prison for each of the five separate charges, Hameline said. So in the event that Davis' 300-year sentence is shaved on appeal to a 25-year minimum, it would be much longer before Davis could face any possible - albeit unlikely - parole, he said.

"If that were to happen, this trial would not be an 'academic exercise,'" Hameline said.

Nevertheless, Wittman said, "I just think the court's time and jurors' time and attorneys' time could be better spent, regardless of whatever reason there is for why he's been indicted and why it's going to trial."

The trial is expected to last three days, Hameline said.

Even though it was difficult to find an impartial jury during Davis' first trial, Wittman said she thinks it will be nearly impossible to find a fair jury this time around once potential jurors hear that Davis has been convicted in a police officer's death.

"Now we don't have a presumption of innocence," Wittman said.