A California man who was convicted in 2005 for the 1985 murder of a woman in El Dorado Hills is innocent. The district attorneys from El Dorado and Sacramento counties on Thursday announced DNA evidence proves conclusively that Ricky Davis did not kill Jane Hylton. The DNA of an unknown male was found last year from material taken from Hylton's fingernails and on the nightgown she was wearing at the time of the fatal stabbing. Prosecutors say the DNA was linked to a friend of her daughter. A new, unidentified suspect has been arrested.
The 54-year-old Davis was described by his attorney as being "very emotional" during a Thursday morning court hearing to dismiss the case against him. He hugged family members who were in the courtroom after thanking the judge for pronouncing him innocent.
On July 7, 1985, the El Dorado County Sheriff's Department received a 911 call about a murder at the El Dorado Hills home of Wilma Klein. Hylton had been experiencing marital problem and was staying there with her then teenage daughter at Klein's invitation.
Klein's grandson, Davis, his girlfriend, Connie Dahl, and Hylton's daughter met the deputies. Davis led them to Hylton's body in a bedroom. All three denied having anything to do with the killing. Davis said he had come to the home with Dahl after a late night party, and he told them Hylton's daughter had been waiting outside the home for fear of getting into trouble for staying out late with one or more boys from the area.
The case remained cold until 1999 when Dahl was interviewed again several times by detectives over the following 18 months. She reportedly gave them a confession after being subjects to interrogation techniques now considered likely to elicit false confessions, according to the Santa Clara University School of Law's Northern California Innocence Project. Dahl died in 2014, according to published reports.
In 2019, the project began working with El Dorado County District Attorney Vern Pierson's office to get the arrange for the additional DNA testing which would eventually exonerate Davis.
Schubert and Pierson spoke about the team work that gave back to Davis his life. Schubert said she was eager to make her crime investigation lab available to Pierson, including the DNA testing and genealogy matching that was also used to solve the Golden State Killer/Sacramento East Area Rapist case.