Prosecutor office faces challenges as mayoral aide announces campaign

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Byron Davenport, Sr., sits on his front porch on the city’s eastside, about a block away from where his namesake son was murdered in the spring of 2018 and about three blocks away from where Byron, Jr.’s admitted killer walks free today.

“The gentleman that killed my son, I see him walking every day. Word on the street, ‘Oh, I beat the murder, I beat the murder.’

“We’re losing murder cases. Its just that simple.”

Davenport is angry at the Marion County Prosecutors Office about the murder trial it lost against Harold Pulliam for the killing of Byron Davenport, Jr., last month.

“See now they want the public to come forward with information on some of these unsolved homicides. Why would they, why would they when they get to the prosecutors office or that part of the system where it’s the justice part of the system and they’re walking the streets and they know you done told on them?”

Davenport is not only a grieving father.

He’s also a Marion County democrat party precinct committeeman who will be casting a caucus vote to name the next county prosecutor following the unexpected resignation of incumbent Terry Curry Monday.

Curry announced his decision to step down for health reasons.

“I believe in my opinion that we ought to be electing somebody that’s qualified outside of the current prosecutors office,” said Davenport. “I believe that the whole prosecutors office needs to be evaluated.”

Curry assigned Chief Trial Deputy Ryan Mears to oversee operations of the office pending the democrats’ expected caucus within thirty days to name a successor to fill out the last three years of his elected term.

Mayoral Counsel Tim Moriarty has already announced his intentions to seek the party’s blessings.

Moriarty has been Mayor Joe Hogsett’s point man on criminal justice reform and construction of the $585 million community justice campus on East Prospect Street.

As the highest elected democrat in Marion County, Hogsett could be expected to have some influence over who the party will choose as the next county prosecutor.

“Obviously the community justice campus is well on its way but there’s still more work to be done,” said Hogsett an hour before Moriarty’s candidacy became public knowledge, “and someone who is very involved in that process I think brings a skill set to the conversation that I think will help us move criminal justice reform along throughout our city and make our criminal justice system more responsive, more equitable for more people.”

In his farewell announcement Monday, Curry expressed his confidence in Mears’ ability to run the office on an interim basis, an opinion seconded by republican mayoral candidate Jim Merritt.

Its not know if Mears will seek the democrat party’s nomination for the post. He was unavailable for comment today but has previously defended the prosecutors’ success rate in gaining guilty pleas or convictions for accused violent offenders.

The Davenport verdict was just the first late summer setback for the Marion County Prosecutors Office.

A month later, Robert Dew was found not guilty of killing bailbondsman Byron Frierson during an attempted apprehension.

Dew was wanted for skipping on a bond.

Frierson attempted to apprehend him outside Stuart Mortuary on North Illinois Street in March of 2018 when witnesses said Dew shot him to death.

Dew was arrested at the scene and later argued self-defense, a strategy that a courtroom source told Fox 59 News left deputy prosecutors flatfooted and unprepared to combat.

“Every time you walk into a courtroom, nothing is guaranteed,” said Hogsett, a former U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Indiana. “Every time you try a case you may have the best case in the world but there’s nothing guaranteed about it.

“Most of the time, if you are the Marion County Prosecutor, is administering the office.”

Curry often referred to the MCPO as the largest law firm in Indiana with 400 employees dispensing of an estimated 30,000 cases per year.

“The more knowledge you have, the better off you’re going to be able to administer not only the Marion County Prosecutors Office but also play a pivotal role in holistic criminal justice reform within the community,” said Hogsett. “That’s our goal, that’s been our goal of this administration since Day One.”

Byron Davenport’s goal dating back to May 18, 2018, has always been to find justice for his son’s murder.

“I believe what went wrong is the way the prosecutor presented the case. Then gentleman that was accused admitted that he emptied a seven round clip, four rounds hit my son. He admitted this.”

Pulliam told jurors that he feared the younger Davenport who had robbed him earlier.

“This is our problem right now in Indianapolis, Indiana, we’re talking murder every day,” said Davenport, Sr. “Murder, murder, muder, murder. Every day. The community, law enforcement, is working too hard to get these suspects off the streets to get the results that we are getting.”

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