COQUILLE — In the final day of the Andrew Davenport murder trial, both the prosecution and defense agreed on the fact Randall Harless was killed on Aug. 25, 2012, that it happened in his home near Empire Lakes and that it most likely was at the hands of someone else.
After four days of trial and four hours of deliberation, the 12-person jury decided the assailant wasn’t Davenport, acquitting the defendant Friday by a vote of 11-1 and releasing him after he spent 11 months in jail.
The downfall of the prosecution was the two most powerful words in the legal system: reasonable doubt.
Defense attorney Donald Scales offered up plenty of doubt for the jury to chew on: there was no eyewitness of the attack that could positively identify Davenport, the defendant’s DNA and fingerprints weren’t found on any murder weapon, the defendant’s confession he made to Davenport’s daughter was reneged during her testimony, there was no direct motive for Davenport to commit the crime, and the reason other viable suspects that were eliminated by the investigators were incessantly questioned by Scales.
The Medford-based Scales offered a short statement after the verdict was handed down.
“I’m just very happy, just appreciate the jury for doing their duty,” Scales said after the verdict. “It’s never easy for both sides. My heart goes out to the Harless family.”
District Attorney Paul Frasier did a solid job connecting the circumstantial evidence he had during his closing arguments. He argued that Davenport jumped into Empire Lakes to throw off the dogs searching for him around the crime scene, that he threw his clothes away afterward because he was in the lake and that he had selective memory when interrogated by police about what he had done that night.
This is Frasier’s first murder acquittal since he was elected District Attorney back in 2008. While he’s not particularly pleased with the outcome, he respects the process and the jury’s verdict.
“Obviously I’m disappointed but that’s why we have the jury system,” Frasier said. “Is our system perfect? No. But it’s the best thing in the world, and while I don’t necessarily agree and am disappointed with the verdict, at the same time, I respect the verdict.”