NEWPORT NEWS -- A Henrico County man who spent 22 years in prison for a murder he didn't commit has filed a lawsuit against the City of Newport News and the lead detectives in his case.
David W. Boyce was given two life in prison sentences in 1991 when he was just 20 years old. A jury convicted him of killing his friend and then-roommate, Timothy Kurt Askew.
Askew was found stabbed to death in a room of an Econo Lodge in the Oyster Point area of Newport News.
The lawsuit, filed on Tuesday against the city and two detectives who led the investigation into Askew's murder--Thomas Bennet and Patricia Montgomery--claims the officers knowingly lied, misled witnesses and withheld evidence from defense attorneys.
"Defendants Bennett and Montgomery in the course of carrying out their investigative duties, intentionally and in bad faith, or in the alternative recklessly, withheld and concealed exculpatory and impeachment evidence from the Commonwealth's Attorney, and hence from Boyce and his Counsel, for the purpose of depriving Boyce of the use of that evidence at trial," an opening allegation in the lawsuit's complaint reads.
Boyce was set free from prison in spring 2013 after new DNA tests proved he was not at the scene of the crime.
Among the accusations leveled at the officers, Boyce accused the pair of hiding a Polaroid picture taken of Boyce the day he was arrested. The picture would have proved that he had short hair at the time immediately following the murder. Several witnesses said Boyce was seen with long hair hanging out with Askew the night he was murdered and running from the scene of the crime.
The picture was revealed more than a decade after Boyce was convicted, after he remembered it was taken by an officer when he was first taken in for questioning.
The lawsuit also claims the detectives investigating Askew's murder coerced a jailhouse snitch to testify that he had heard Boyce confess to killing Askew in jail.
"Faced with likely dismissal of the case at the preliminary hearing stage, at the last minute the Newport News police managed to scrounge up a jail house snitch, who conveniently came forward only days before the preliminary hearing, to shore up the commonwealth's case," attorneys for Boyce write in the complaint.
Throughout the prosecution--including at the preliminary hearing and at trail--two different inmates testified against Boyce. The new lawsuit claims none of the testimony was consistent with facts of the killing and should not have been relied upon to convict Boyce.
Attorneys for Boyce also write that detectives withheld fingerprint analysis and the results of other forensic tests that were conducted. The lawsuit claims all of the evidence that was withheld would have led to Boyce being acquitted.
A federal judge overturned Boyce's conviction in March 2013 and ordered he either be retried or released. Later that year, the Virginia Beach Commonwealth's Attorney concluded there was not enough evidence to re-try Boyce and, in fact, asked a court to expunge the crimes from Boyce's record.
The new lawsuit seeks $25 million from the defendants.
In an email Friday, an attorney for Newport News said the city had not received a copy of the complaint and could not comment.