Former Southaven Mayor Greg Davis has been found not guilty in his embezzlement and fraud trial in Oxford.
The jury deliberated just under one hour and forty-five minutes before reaching their unanimous not guilty verdict.
The retrial of Davis went more quickly than the first trial, the verdict of which was reversed upon appeal.
"I wish that I could pinpoint what the difference was this time," District Attorney John Champion said shortly after the verdict was reached. "Former City Clerk Sheila Heath was a very good witness for us last time, and unfortunately Ms. Heath has passed away. We had to read her testimony into the record."
Heath, who passed away from cancer last year, gave testimony about Davis' actions which Champion believes aided the prosecution. "The fact that she passed away, we had to read her testimony into the record. I feel like our witnesses did a good job. I feel good about the case we put on. The proof was the same. I respect their verdict. It just did not come out for us this time."
The retrial of Davis began Monday in Oxford with jury selection and opening arguments for a case which attorneys had believed would take between 2-3 days to complete.
Davis, who was mayor in Southaven for 16 years until 2013, was facing trial again on charges of fraud and embezzlement in a case that resulted in a guilty verdict against him in 2014.
Attorney Steve Farese appealed the decision, however, claiming Davis was at an unfair disadvantage since the trial took place in DeSoto County Circuit Court and pretrial publicity kept him from having a fair trial.
The Mississippi Court of Appeals last July agreed and ordered a new trial be held somewhere else.
The two sides eventually settled on the trial being held in Grenada, but a scheduling conflict moved the case to Oxford.
District Attorney John Champion prosecuted the case against Davis, as he did in the original trial in Hernando.
In the original case, Davis was found guilty of embezzling money from the City of Southaven with a city-owned vehicle that Davis was charged with illegally purchasing and taking mileage reimbursement for gasoline already covered by a city credit card.
Circuit Judge James McClure presided from the bench in the Oxford trial.
Bob Bakken is Staff Writer and may be reached at 662-429-6397 ext. 240.