Home Wrongful Conviction: David Dowaliby

Wrongful Conviction: David Dowaliby

David Dowaliby
David Dowaliby

David Dowaliby was convicted in 1990 of the murder of his adopted daughter, 7-year-old Jaclyn Dowaliby. His conviction was secured by eyewitness testimony of a man who claimed to see Dowaliby on the night the victim went missing near where her body was found five days later.

The witness, Everett Mann, had a history of mental illness, being previously diagnosed with a bipolar disorder. Mann identified Dowaliby from 75 yards away in an unlighted parking lot, stating that he recognized Dowaliby’s nose structure. He would become known as the “nose witness” in the press.

David and his wife Cynthia were both charged with the crime, based on Mann’s identification and a broken window that appeared to be broken from inside the home. Forensic analysis would later prove that the glass was broken from outside the home.

Cook County Circuit Court Judge Richard A. Neville granted a direct verdict of not guilty for Cynthia Dowaliby in the Dowaliby’s 1990 murder trial, stating that there was no credible evidence against her, but Neville allowed David’s case to go to the jury. The only additional evidence against David was the identification made by the “nose-witness.”  The jury found David Dowaliby guilty of murder.

It appeared that the jury found David Dowaliby guilty of murder based solely on Everett Mann’s testimony but the jury forewoman made a shocking revelation in an interview shortly after the verdict was read. The jury used a photograph of a door in the Dowaliby’s home that had holes punched in it to leap to the conclusion that David was a violent man. The door was not presented as evidence at trial by either side and after further investigation, it was determined that the door was damaged years before the Dowaliby’s had moved into the home. The damage had absolutely nothing to do with the crime.

In 1991, the Illinois Appellate Court reversed David Dowaliby’s conviction outright, stating that the evidence against him had been no more probative than that against his wife, finding the “nose-witness” testimony preposterous.  In 1992, the Illinois Supreme Court was asked to review the case by The Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office but the high court declined the request, putting an end to the case against the Dowaliby’s. The case remains unsolved.