A St. Clair County jury on Wednesday issued a not-guilty verdict for an East. St. Louis man who was charged with first-degree murder in connection with the fatal stabbing of his nephew during a family holiday party.
Jimmy L. Davis, 56, of 430 N. 11th Street, claimed self-defense and received a not-guilty verdict from the jury after they deliberated for about six hours.
Later Wednesday, Davis walked out of the St. Clair County Jail and enjoyed his first cigarette in 11 months.
"Tastes like a million dollars," he said.
Davis was charged in connection with the fatal stabbing of his nephew, Demetric Dowell, 29, during a Fourth of July party in 2013. Davis had been held in the St. Clair County Jail, awaiting trial, since the stabbing.
"God is good," Davis said outside the jail, when asked for his reaction to the jury's verdict.
Davis was accused stabbing Dowell during an argument. Several relatives were gathered at Davis' home to celebrate the holiday when the argument occurred.
Andrew Liefer and Patrick Sullivan, Davis' public defenders, argued Davis stabbed Dowell to protect himself and others.
"We believed the jury reached the correct verdict," Liefer said. "Our heart goes out to the victim's family, including Jimmy. He was his uncle."
Davis said he is still saddened by the death of Dowell.
"My nephew is still dead," Davis said. "I still have to deal with that."'
St. Clair County State's Attorney Brendan Kelly said that he respected the hard work of the jury and their decision. He declined further comment.
Sullivan, in his closing argument, told the jury: "Mr. Davis, like all of us, has the absolute right to defend himself and others from an attacker. He exercised that right and is asking this jury to clear his good name,"
Davis thanked his lawyers after his release.
"If they don't know my affections for them at this moment, I will say they are the greatest two men I have ever met," Davis said.