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Richard Jackson

Other Pennsylvania Cases with Perjury or False Accusation
On September 21, 1997, 38-year-old Alvin Davis was found stabbed to death in his apartment in Upper Darby, Pennsylvania.

Two bloody fingerprints on a fan near Davis’s body were the only evidence collected.

Police questioned 40-year-old Richard “Riky” Jackson, a Philadelphia hair stylist and Davis’s sometimes lover. Jackson had voluntarily gone to the police and told them he was with Davis the night before he died, but said he had nothing to do with the murder.

Nonetheless, Jackson was charged with murdering Davis after police concluded that Jackson had left the two bloody fingerprints.

In September 1998, Jackson went to trial in Delaware County Court. The prosecution called three experts who identified the prints as Jackson’s—Upper Darby police Sgt. Anthony Paparo, Delaware County police Detective William Welsh, and Jon Creighton, a fingerprint examiner from Vermont who was certified by the International Association of Identification (IAI).

Jackson’s attorney, Michael Malloy, presented the testimony of Vernon McCloud, who spent 40 years as a fingerprint examiner for several federal agencies, and George Wynn, a former FBI fingerprint examiner. Both testified that the bloody fingerprints were not Jackson’s.

Jackson testified that he and Davis were casual lovers and that they had been together the night before Davis was killed. Jackson denied any involvement in the crime.

On September 24, 1998, the jury convicted Jackson of first-degree murder and abuse of a corpse. He was sentenced to life in prison without parole.

Wynn and McCloud subsequently asked the IAI to review the case, calling it a “gross miscarriage of justice.” McCloud said at the time, “I have never been more shocked in my life than when they found this fellow guilty based on those fingerprints.”

A panel of IAI experts investigated Creighton’s work and his testimony and concluded that he was wrong. Creighton admitted he had made a mistake. The IAI took the unusual and harshest step possible—it decertified Creighton as an examiner in the association.

In August 1999, Malloy filed a motion for a new trial, citing the IAI findings. In November 1999, after another expert retained by the prosecution examined the evidence and concluded the prints were not Jackson’s, Malloy and Delaware County District Attorney Patrick Meehan jointly requested the fingerprint evidence be sent to the FBI for examination. Court Judge George Koudelis granted the request.

On December 23, 1999, Judge Koudelis vacated Jackson’s conviction when the FBI concluded the prints were not Jackson’s. Jackson was released after posting $1 bail. District Attorney Meehan said the prints were the “keystone of the prosecution’s case” against Jackson and that without them, “there’s no credible basis to accuse him.”

On March 7, 2000, the prosecution dismissed the charges. In July 2000, Jackson filed a federal civil rights lawsuit seeking damages from Upper Darby and Delaware County as well as the officers involved in the case.

Ultimately, all defendants except Sgt. Paparo were dismissed. And in 2003, following a trial of the lawsuit, the jury found in favor of Paparo.

– Maurice Possley

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Posting Date:  Before June 2012
Last Updated: 3/18/2019
Most Serious Crime:Murder
Additional Convictions:Other Violent Felony
Reported Crime Date:1997
Sentence:Life without parole
Age at the date of reported crime:40
Contributing Factors:False or Misleading Forensic Evidence, Perjury or False Accusation
Did DNA evidence contribute to the exoneration?:No