Man Found Guilty of First-Degree Murder for 1985 Rape and Murder


JANUARY 28, 2016


CONTACT: ALEX BASTIAN-415-553-1931, MAX SZABO-415-553-9089



SAN FRANCISCO – Today, District Attorney George Gascón announced that a jury found John Davis, age 49 of San Francisco, guilty of first-degree murder with special circumstance allegations for committing the murder during the course of a rape and burglary.

“If you commit a heinous crime in San Francisco we will do everything ethically possible to bring you to justice,” said District Attorney George Gascón. “Justice may be delayed, but it won’t be denied.” 

According to court records, on December 4, 1985, 28-year old Barbara Martz was burglarized, raped and brutally stabbed to death after returning to her Potrero Hill home from the grocery store that evening.  After the autopsy, samples of semen taken from victim were stored at the San Francisco Medical Examiner’s office freezer and remained there for approximately 17 years.  In 2002, the samples were pulled from the freezer, and a DNA profile was developed that was later matched to the defendant, John Davis.  Davis was tried and convicted for the murder in 2007, but the conviction was subsequently overturned on appeal in 2013 based on juror misconduct during deliberations.  This conviction comes over eight years after that first trial. The jury deliberated for one day.        

“Thanks to science and the law we were able to bring justice to this family,” said ADA Andrew Ganz.  “Being able to hold this defendant responsible after so many years is an extremely rewarding experience.”

This successful prosecution is a result of an excellent investigation conducted by SFPD Lt. James Spillane, (Ret.) Sgt. Edward Erdelatz and (Ret) Sgt. Jeffrey Brosch. Paralegal Tony Yu, and Morris Moore from IT provided indispensable support for the prosecution.