HOUSTON - The only suspect in the death of Maleah Davis, 4, is making a new push to get out of jail.
It’s now been more than a year since Derion Vence was arrested in connection with the death of his former fiancé’s daughter Maleah Davis, and his case has still not gone past arraignment. On the anniversary of his arrest, he submitted a handwritten motion to reduce bail.
Vence is charged with felony injury to a child and tampering with Davis’ corpse.
He cited citing Article 17.51 of the Code of Criminal Procedure as reason for a bail reduction if the state is still not ready to proceed with trial after a 90 day period. He drafted the motion on his own without his attorney, even though he is represented in the case by attorney Dorian Cotlar.
“It’s up to the attorney that’s representing him whether or not he wants to adopt that motion,” said attorney and legal expert Natalie Fleming.
Cotlar declined to comment on Vence’s new motion when FOX 26 reached him by phone.
Fleming says while Vence’s motion is well written and cites a legitimate statute, it could be a moot motion.
“It could be moot in this case because of the system and the way it is backlogged,” said Fleming. “You can’t get jury trials right now. There’s no juries. You can’t seat 12 people and socially distant, unfortunately.”
With a backlogged judicial system in Harris County, the prosecution is not to blame for the delay, but rather the court system--bogged down by delays from Hurricane Harvey and now COVID-19.
The delays are to the tune of 39,057 active cases waiting in line for trial, according to the Harris County District Attorney’s Office.
“It’s just generally not good to put these things on hold—no particular reason, but it just delays the whole process,” said JoAnne Musick, prosecutor for the Harris County DA’s Office. “People get more anxious and upset, and it slows everything down. And then of course the cases get more and more backlogged. We started with Harvey. Now we’re here with COVID, and we’ve yet to recover from those backlogs. They’re just getting worse.”
Vence was supposed to be in court Wednesday for a pretrial disposition, but as has been the case many times now, that court date was reset, this time for August 4.
FOX 26 stopped by Vence’s Sugar Land home where he lived with his mom and brother to try to get their reaction, but they’ve since moved.