HAMPTON, Va. (WAVY) — An order was given Thursday to release a murder suspect from jail, but because the paperwork wasn’t sent to the jail, he spent an extra night behind bars.
Eric Nixon was first incarcerated on May 27, 2013 after 16-year-old Raphael Davis was killed and four others were injured in a shooting near the Hampton Coliseum Carnival. Two teens were arrested for the murder — Nixon and Ryan Taybron.
Taybron was released from jail, pending trial, because of potential speedy trial violations — an incarcerated man must have his trial within five months and a man out of jail on bond must stand trial within nine months. In court Thursday, Nixon was also ordered to be released, pending trial, but the judge’s signed order wasn’t sent to the jail.
Nixon’s Attorney, Greg Bane, told WAVY.com Nixon’s mother went to the Hampton Roads Regional Jail in Portsmouth Thursday afternoon, expecting his release, but a deputy said the judge’s order was not among the paperwork that had been sent over to the jail after the hearing.
“To my knowledge they informed her … they would hope to get the information sent over [Friday] morning,” Bane said. “I have not been able to determine why the paperwork did not make it over there, and know that the judge signed the order and the clerk informed me that the paper required was being prepared before we left the hearing [Thursday] afternoon around 12:30 p.m.”
On Friday, Nixon was released from the Portsmouth jail.
This is the second time a procedural breakdown has kept Nixon somewhere he isn’t supposed to be. In October, he was wrongly released from Newport News City Jail because of a systematic failure between officials in Newport News and Hampton. He told officials he wasn’t supposed to be released, but was, and then turned himself back in to police, who then realized their mistake.
The trial for Nixon and Taybron was to begin Monday, but on Thursday, the Commonwealth asked for and was granted a continuance because of significant problems with witnesses who are needed to move forward with the case.
Outside court, WAVY.com talked with Taybron’s attorney, Leslie Siman-Tov, who said she had concerns about the continuance. She said the Commonwealth has not made a good-faith effort to bring Taybron’s main accuser to court, not even giving her a subpoena.
In court, Taybron’s accuser was described as a runaway, possibly unreliable to show up for any trial. The Assistant Commonwealth’s Attorney Artisha Todd denied that subpoenas were not delivered, but wasn’t sure.
“We have witness issues,” Todd told Judge Wilford Taylor. “The victim is a teenager, and the witnesses are teenagers too. We have a plan ready to move forward, and we must get justice for this family. We need more time to prepare witnesses.”
Outside the court, WAVY.com asked Todd how concerned she was about her witness. She answered: “We are not going to make any comment because the case is still going.”
Even though the prosecution was granted a continuance, that does not mean the case will actually go to trial. Based on what has taken place in court, it seems conviction is no slam-dunk in this case.
On July 30, 2013, during a preliminary hearing, Bane questioned the witness who was allegedly shot by Nixon. The witness could not say for certain whether Nixon pulled the trigger. The following is a portion of the transcript between Bane and the witness in court:
Bane: Did [Nixon] pull out the gun and shoot it, or were there more than one person shooting?
Witness: “I didn’t see him shoot the gun.”
Bane: You never saw Eric shoot the gun?
Witness: I didn’t see him shoot nobody.
Bane: You didn’t see him shoot anybody?
Bane: So, you just saw him with a gun?
Witness: Yes, but I didn’t see him shoot nobody.
Bane also had no comment for WAVY.com about witnesses.
“Eric did not hurt anyone,” Nixon’s mother, Alfreda McCoy, told WAVY.com. “He did not shoot anyone … and that’s what [the witness] said during the preliminary hearing.”
If the case does go to trial, the Commonwealth Attorney’s Office will go to court with witnesses that could be the downfall of it’s case against Taybron and Nixon. For now, the trial is scheduled to begin April 21.