Verdict: Beloit man not guilty in murder

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Angela Major/Adams Publishing Group Jacob Davenport smiles at defense attorney Michael Murphy, left, after being found not guilty of murder by a jury Friday at the Rock County Courthouse in Janesville.

JANESVILLE - A jury found a Beloit man not guilty on Friday of the shooting death of a man in Beloit last February.

Jacob M. Davenport, 38, was accused of shooting and killing his sometimes-crack cocaine supplier, James M. Tomten, on Feb. 9 in Tomten's SUV in Beloit.

Prosecutors acknowledged Tomten, 28, was a drug dealer, but also a dedicated husband and father to his daughter and to his wife's other children.

Davenport also was a father who had lived with his fiancée for 20 years. She was all smiles after the verdict was read, but declined comment.

Defense attorney Michael Murphy said Davenport told him he felt lightheaded and light-footed.

"And he's looking forward to getting home to his wife and kids," Murphy said, adding he hopes Davenport can get back to leading a productive life, "if not in Rock County, somewhere warm."

Murphy said the case was about addiction, and he said he hoped Davenport, a smart guy and hard worker, could get clean and get his life back on track.

"I think, frankly, it was just a matter of time," Murphy said when asked if people should be concerned about a murderer on the loose. "So I don't think anybody else should be concerned that they're going to be part of the target group unless they're going to go down that same road."

Davenport took the stand Friday to tell what he said happened the day of the murder. He said he was driving another cocaine dealer around Beloit in exchange for crack, and then he drove his son to Skatin' Station in Beloit, all around the time of the murder.

When Assistant District Attorney Jerry Urbik asked Davenport if he expected the jury to believe this story, Davenport responded, "You're damn right they should."

A key to the case was a cellphone-mapping expert who testified it was highly unlikely Davenport was on the same side of the Rock River as Tomten at the time of the murder.

Cellphone records also indicated Davenport was on the phone with another person - the drug dealer he was driving around -at the time of the shooting.

Urbik suggested the call might have been placed inadvertently and said records couldn't tell the difference between an accidental pocket dial and an actual conversation.

The jury requested phone records and cellphone mapping analyses as it deliberated. It returned a verdict after about three hours and 40 minutes of deliberation.

The prosecution had no DNA or fingerprint evidence linking anyone to the murder and no murder weapon.

Davenport portrayed himself as a flooring installer who got hooked on crack cocaine and lost his house, friends and almost lost his family.

Davenport had been planning to move his family to Texas, where he had friends and where he hoped to get clean and restart his life with his family.

He took a bus to Texas two days after the murder. He admitted under questioning from Urbik that this might look suspicious, but he denied Urbik's assertions that he killed Tomten.

Tomten was found dead after his Cadillac Escalade plowed into a snowbank on Vine Street on the Beloit's West Side. Surveillance video showed a man getting out of the SUV and leaving on foot.

The man who left the scene was apparently the same man who had gotten into the Escalade Tomten was driving at the Save A Lot store parking lot minutes before, as seen in the store's surveillance video. Both videos showed the same clothing, including a red hooded sweatshirt and red athletic shoes. But the videos were not clear enough to identify anyone.

Davenport said he was wearing a black sweatshirt that day.

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