For Carter's Childhood Friend, a Little-Known Murder Charge

'Washington Post' explores how future president helped Alonzo 'AD' Davis out of legal trouble
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 26, 2023 8:25 AM CDT
For Carter's Childhood Friend, a Little-Known Murder Charge
In this Feb. 8, 1976, file photo, Jimmy Carter is pictured outside his home in Plains, Georgia.   (AP Photo, file)

Jimmy Carter has fondly written about and spoken of his Black childhood friend, Alonzo "AD" Davis. The bond forged between them in Plains, Georgia, decades ago led the future president to "question the Jim Crow norms" of the day, writes Danielle Paquette in the Washington Post. Davis died in 1985, and Paquette's story offers a never-before-told look at another aspect of their friendship, this one from adulthood. Davis was convicted of manslaughter in 1969 after killing his employer in what Davis' lawyer called a case of self-defense. Carter, then a rising political star in his home state, used his influence to help secure the lesser manslaughter conviction—Davis was initially charged with murder—then helped get Davis out of prison in only 18 months, according to the story.

“Jimmy got him out,” says Davis' 60-year-old son, Alonza. “Jimmy took care of our family.” A niece agrees with that take. The elder Davis was released from prison in 1971, less than a year after Carter became governor of Georgia. In his memoir An Hour Before Daylight, Carter briefly mentions Davis as an adult, saying he had been convicted of forgery. The Post finds no record of a forgery conviction, and Carter did not mention the manslaughter case. "My best guess is that Carter didn’t want 'my childhood friend shot a guy, but it was self-defense' as the ending to his memoir,” says Evan Kutzler, a history professor at Georgia Southwestern State University. Read the full story. (Carter remains in hospice care at his home in Plains.)

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