Lavelle Davis, 32, was released from custody on bond yesterday awaiting a new trial in a controversial Illinois “lip print” case, reports the Chicago Tribune. Davis had been serving a 45-year sentence for the 1993 killing, but a judge ordered a new trial, citing serious questions about the reliability of a lip print used to link him to the crime. Investigators they linked Davis to the crime through a lip print lifted off a piece of duct tape found near the scene. Prosecutors theorized the print was left on the sticky side of the tape while he showed others what he might do if the victim began to scream.
Davis’ case was highlighted in a 2004 Tribune series on questionable forensic evidence. The article raised questions about the reliability of lip-print evidence in Davis’ case. Last year, two new attorneys for Davis presented experts who testified lip prints are unreliable. They also presented an affidavit from the FBI stating the agency has never independently evaluated lip-print evidence. A judge ruled that Davis should have a new trial because he had been denied his constitutional right to effective counsel because his attorney did not properly challenge the lip-print evidence.