July 8, 2014 10:27:16 AM
HERNANDO -- Former Southaven Mayor Greg Davis is asking a judge to overturn his conviction on charges of embezzlement and making false representations to defraud the government.
Such motions are common after convictions.
Attorney Steve Farese is arguing that the trial should have been moved out of DeSoto County, The Commercial Appeal reported. His motion said that after five years of headlines about Davis' personal and professional life, there was no way to find an impartial jury.
Circuit Judge Robert Chamberlin rejected Farese's pretrial request for a change of venue, saying he wanted to wait and see if it was possible to get an impartial jury.
A DeSoto County jury convicted Davis on both felony charges on June 11, and his sentencing hearing is scheduled for Thursday. Davis could get up to 25 years in prison -- 20 for embezzlement and five for fraud
Prosecutors said Davis embezzled gasoline by filling his personal vehicle gas at the city pumps while getting a monthly check to pay for gas and travel. The fraud charge accused him of falsely claiming he had authority as a government official to buy the 2007 Ford Expedition the city had leased for him from Tom Bell Leasing. Davis bought the vehicle, valued at $46,000, for $11,000.
Farese also contends that Chamberlin should have granted the mistrial he requested after state witness James Pike testified.
Pike, former owner of Tom Bell Leasing, produced during his testimony a leasing document that showed Southaven had the option to buy Davis' sport utility vehicle for $10,000.
Farese said neither the defense nor the state had ever seen the document. He wrote that he is not accusing anyone of intentional misconduct, but Pike's testimony "was beyond prejudicial to the defendant's already limited chances at a fair trial in this venue."
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