A Baltimore jury on Friday convicted Keith Davis Jr. in the 2015 murder of Pimlico security guard Kevin Jones, bringing to an end the fourth trial of the case that previously resulted in two mistrials and a conviction that was thrown out.
Davis was charged with counts of second-degree and use of a firearm in a crime of violence. Per The Sun‘s Tim Prudente, he will be sentenced in November.
Since Davis was shot by police in 2015–the first victim of an officer-involved shooting after the in-custody death of Freddie Gray–activists, led by Davis’s then-girlfriend, now-wife Kelly, have rallied around his cause. From the start, Davis has claimed police chased the wrong man after a carjacking in Northwest Baltimore.
On Twitter, Kelly Davis today vowed to file a motion for a new trial and keep fighting.
Guys I’m fine I’m sitting down with his team and moving, he’s ok he winked at me and we’re going to keep fighting until he’s free….Dry your eyes hold your heads up and SHOW UP FOR HIM!!! #FreeKeithDavisJr
— 50ShadesofKellz (@50ShadesofKellz) July 26, 2019
During a press conference outside Baltimore Police headquarters, Kelly Davis said there were a number of discovery violations during the trial, and called on the lead homicide detective, Mark Veney, to be investigated for tampering with evidence.
Prosecutors did not call Veney to the stand, even though he was leading the investigation into Jones’ murder. Instead, the defense called him.
In a statement, State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby said this case was always about “the pursuit of justice for Kevin Jones,” who was shot and killed on the morning of June 7, 2015, while walking to work at Pimlico Race Course.
“I am so pleased a jury saw fit to once again hold his assailant fully accountable for his senseless death,” Mosby said. “I truly hope Kevin’s loved ones can finally close this gruesome chapter of grief and find their path to healing.”
Over the course of four trials dating back to 2017, prosecutors have presented evidence saying the shell casings found near Jones’ body matched up with a gun found hours later on Davis. Hours after the shooting, police chased Davis into an auto garage and fired dozens of shots, testifying that he was pointing a gun at them.
Davis was struck multiple times, including once in the cheek. Investigators later found his partial palm print on the gun.
He received 16 charges in all from the incident, including assault on the police officers and armed robbery. During his February 2016 trial, officers stated they never lost sight of Davis during the pursuit and testified his prints were found on a gun found in the garage.
But the victim of the carjacking looked at Davis on the stand and said, “To my recollection, that don’t look like him to me.” Officer Lane Eskins, who first pursued a man following the carjacking, initially told interviewers he was following a man with braids, a hairstyle Davis didn’t have.
Shortly after, prosecutors charged him with Jones’ murder, with then-Police Commissioner Kevin Davis telling reporters ballistics evidence linked Keith Davis Jr. to the killing and an FBI analysis of phone records placed him at the scene.
That case went to trial in May 2017 and ended with a hung jury. A second trial ended with convictions on second-degree murder and use of a firearm in a violent crime, but that was thrown out after the defense questioned testimony by a jailhouse witness who claimed Davis Jr. confessed to the murder.
Just before the case was brought a third time, the Civilian Review Board questioned the credibility of the four officers who were involved in shooting Davis, recommending Lane Eskins and Alfred Santiago be fired, and that officers Catherine Filippou and Israel Lopez be suspended for 30 days. The defense team called for the case to be dropped, but the State’s Attorney’s Office went forward with the third trial anyway. It also ended with a hung jury.
In the fourth proceeding, per the Baltimore Beat, Assistant State’s Attorney Patrick Seidel referred to the events leading up to Davis arrest as “a series of random events”–in other words, “a fancy legal term for luck.”
Later media coverage showed Seidel outlined a similar series of events related to the chase, the shootout at the garage, the evidence showing the gun was used in the murder and the phone tower data that placed Davis near the site of the shooting.
Assistant Public Defender Deborah Levi pointed to inconsistencies in the state’s case, per The Sun. There was no gunshot residue in the barrel of the gun allegedly used to murder Jones, she said. Some of the shell casings from when crime lab technicians test fired the weapon went missing.
Earlier in the case, she said the state withheld information about a co-worker of Jones’ who knew about his criminal history “that would motivate someone to kill him.” The defense scrambled to interview him, and then motioned for the case to be dismissed because prosecutors did not disclose information about the co-worker as required by state law.
Levi also grilled Veney, the lead homicide detective, about why he took two cellphones from Jones’ body and kept them for 11 months. He said there was no evidence on them.
The defense called the last registered owner of the gun, Ronald Gorman, to the stand, and he testified that he thought he had consigned it at one of two gun shops, both of which are frequented by police. There’s no paperwork showing it was ever sold to anyone else or stolen.
Levi offered a different theory as to how Davis’ prints ended up on the gun: police planted it on him.
“They blew a .40 caliber bullet through his face,” she told the jury, according to The Sun. “When they realized he didn’t have a gun, they planted the evidence because they were afraid.”
Seidel dismissed this as “manufactured drama.”
“When the evidence hurts the case, you start to manufacture drama. It’s a trick—it’s a trick. It’s designed to confuse you because they don’t want you talking about the evidence.”