- Associated Press - Thursday, July 21, 2016

SOUTHAVEN, Miss. (AP) - The attorney for former Southaven Mayor Greg Davis is hoping to find “middle ground” with Prosecutor John Champion that would make a retrial of Davis on felony fraud and embezzlement charges unnecessary.

Mississippi’s Court of Appeals on Tuesday reversed Davis’ 2014 conviction by a DeSoto County Circuit Court jury, saying he should have been granted a change of venue because of intense publicity.

Attorney Steve Farese told The Commercial Appeal (https://bit.ly/2adnxwk) he’ll meet with Champion to see if the two sides can reach a settlement and avoid another trial.

“We’ll have to meet and see if there’s any middle ground - and I don’t know whether there is or not,” Farese said. “But we’ll get together as soon as we can and talk about it.”

Champion sounded Tuesday as though Davis would most likely be retried.

If that’s the case, Farese said Wednesday, he’ll work to move the trial as far from DeSoto County as possible. Farese said the Gulf Coast would be a logical choice, getting Davis away from the intense publicity in Memphis and Jackson that surrounded his legal issues of the past few years.

A time frame of one to two months sounds reasonable for getting together with the prosecutor to discuss the case, Farese said.

“I know (Champion) has a lot on his plate,” Farese said, pointing to the Jessica Chambers capital murder trial that Champion’s office is also prosecuting. “So I don’t know that it’s realistic a decision could be made any sooner.”

The unanimous appeals court decision focused entirely on the venue issue. Justices noted that given the fact that the trial was not moved to another location, “we need not discuss the other assignments of error Davis has raised on appeal.”

Davis was Southaven mayor from 1997 to 2013, before losing a re-election bid to Darren Musselwhite.

Davis was convicted of illegally purchasing a city-owned SUV without approval from aldermen, and of being reimbursed for mileage purchased on a city-issued card. He was to serve 2½ years concurrently on each of the charges if the conviction had been upheld.

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Information from: The Commercial Appeal, https://www.commercialappeal.com

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