Match on police DNA index results in conviction in 1998 rape, murder

Milford man, 50, could receive life sentence

July 27, 2004|By Matt Whittaker | Matt Whittaker,SUN STAFF

A Baltimore jury, after saying several times it was deadlocked, found a Milford man guilty yesterday of the 1998 rape and murder of an 18-year-old woman.

Presented with DNA evidence obtained more than four years after Jada Danita Lambert of Woodlawn was killed, the jury deliberated about seven hours before convicting Roy Sharonnie Davis III, 50, of the 7500 block of Liberty Road of felony first-degree murder and second-degree rape.

Davis, who is serving 10 years for armed robbery, is scheduled to be sentenced for Lambert's murder Sept. 13. He faces the possibility of a life sentence without parole.

"Thank the Lord," said a tearful Rita Lambert, the victim's mother, after the verdict was read.

"I think the jury came definitely to the right conclusion," said special prosecutor Sharon A. H. May, who cried and embraced Lambert after the trial, which started a week ago.

Michael E. Kaminkow, Davis' lawyer, said, "I'm disappointed but not surprised. The DNA evidence, if accepted by the jury, was compelling."

The jury began deliberations Friday, but sent two notes to Judge Roger W. Brown saying it could not reach a verdict. Brown refused to declare a hung jury and sent the panel home for the weekend. Yesterday, jurors sent a similar note to the judge. Kaminkow was on another case, and Brown waited for the defense attorney to return. Minutes before Kaminkow arrived, the jury sent another note saying it was still deliberating. After breaking for lunch, jurors returned with a verdict about 1:45 p.m.

In May 1998, a 911 call led police to Herring Run Park in Northeast Baltimore, where they found Lambert's body in a stream, according to the prosecutor's office. The teenager had been raped and strangled.

"They didn't have a clue as to who did this," May said.

In 2000, Davis was sentenced for an armed robbery, and two years later a Maryland state police computerized DNA index matched a sample from a swab taken from Lambert's body with DNA obtained from Davis when he was incarcerated, May said. A blood sample confirmed the match.

At one point, Lambert and Davis lived a block from each other on Woodgreen Circle, said May, who was prosecuting her last case after more than 20 years with the city state's attorney's office. May is joining the public defender's office.

Davis' then-wife styled Lambert's hair as well as her mother's.

May contended that Davis did not recognize Lambert and picked her randomly. However, Lambert did recognize Davis, and because she could identify him, Davis killed the 18-year-old, May said.

Davis had challenged the constitutionality of the DNA index but, in a separate case, the Maryland Court of Appeals ruled that the index is lawful, paving the way for the murder case against the Baltimore County man.

"The DNA evidence certainly was critical," said May, adding that that proved sexual contact had occurred.

The jury was required to decide whether the sexual contact was consensual and, if not, whether the rapist also was the killer.

May said the 911 call was another crucial piece of evidence. She said Davis made the call.

The caller said the body was at the intersection of Belair Road and Park Drive. But there is no such intersection, only the crossing of Belair and Parkside Drive. May said this was a slip by Davis, who had previously lived on Park Drive.

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