Davenport’s retrial pushed to next year

Published 12:00 am Saturday, May 9, 2009

The Mississippi State Trooper accused of sex crimes against two teenage boys in Warren County will have to wait another 10 months to face a jury.

Richard Dane Davenport, 46, whose retrial on sexual molestation charges was to begin Monday, was admitted to River Region Medical Center Friday with an illness requiring emergency surgery, his attorney said. Citing privacy laws, he did not name the illness.

Lawyers from both defense and prosecution were present for a postponement hearing Friday afternoon, said John P. Zelbst of Lawton, Okla., who has represented Davenport since shortly after his arrest in January 2008. Prosecution attorneys made no objection to the continuance, Zelbst said.

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Presiding Circuit Judge Isadore Patrick continued the case to March 1, 2010, after confirming the diagnosis with a physician. Based on the September proceeding, which ran into a second week before being declared a mistrial, Patrick needed two clear weeks on the court calendar, which were not available until next year.

“Mr. Davenport truly wanted to go to trial,” Zelbst said Friday afternoon. “He was looking forward to presenting his case to the community.”

A spokesman for Attorney General Jim Hood would not comment on the case Friday afternoon. The Attorney General is prosecuting the case because Davenport is a state employee and was charged in multiple jurisdictions.

Davenport was headed back to court for the fourth time in nine months. In Warren County, he faces four counts of sexual battery of a child younger than 16 and five counts of fondling a child under 14 in a retrial of a Warren County case that ended in a mistrial Sept. 16.

In February, Davenport was acquitted by a jury in Oktibbeha County of one charge of child molestation after a mistrial there on the same charge in October.

Under state law, juvenile accusers in molestation cases are not named.

Davenport has been a state trooper since 1987 and reached the rank of master sergeant. In addition to patrol, he managed the driver’s licensing bureau on Grove Street for about five years. He has been on unpaid administrative leave since his arrest in January 2008.


Contact Pamela Hitchins at phitchins@vicksburgpost.com