Third trial opens in death of track guard

Keith Davis Jr. is charged with killing Pim­lico worker Kevin Jones in 2015

Baltimore Sun - - NEWS - By Jessica An­der­son jkan­der­son@balt­ twit­­ders5

Keith Davis Jr., who is charged with killing a Pim­lico Race Course se­cu­rity guard more than three years ago, re­turned to court Tues­day where he is be­ing tried a third time for the crime.

Prosecutors said Davis, 26, of Columbia, fa­tally shot Kevin Jones as he was walk­ing to his job at the track on June 7, 2015. Hours after the killing, prosecutors said, Davis ran from a rob­bery and was chased by po­lice, who shot him in a nearby garage. Almost a year later, po­lice said the gun they re­cov­ered from where Davis was shot matched the gun used to kill Jones.

Davis’ first mur­der trial in May 2017 ended in a mis­trial after ju­rors dead­locked. He was found guilty of sec­ond-de­gree mur­der at his sec­ond trial last Oc­to­ber, but a judge re­versed the con­vic­tion be­cause in­for­ma­tion about a key wit­ness was not dis­closed.

Lawyers in­di­cated dur­ing a mo­tions hear­ing Tues­day that they will spar over the tes­ti­mony of that wit­ness, a former cell­mate of Davis who pre­vi­ously tes­ti­fied that Davis had con­fessed to the mur­der, say­ing it was a “neigh­bor­hood beef.”

Davis has main­tained his in­no­cence, say­ing the gun was planted on him. His at­tor­ney, Natalie Fine­gar, said Davis’ ar­rest was an at­tempt to shift the fo­cus away from the of­fi­cer-in­volved shoot­ing of Davis, which oc­curred just months after the un­rest in the city fol­low­ing the death of Fred­die Gray from in­juries suf­fered in po­lice cus­tody in April.

“Two men were gunned down that day,” Fine­gar told ju­rors dur­ing open­ing state­ments Tues­day.

But in the first of­fi­cer-in­volved shoot­ing since the protests over Gray’s death, Fine­gar said the Po­lice Depart­ment “vir­tu­ally aban­doned” the in­ves­ti­ga­tion of the shoot­ing by the of­fi­cers.

As­sis­tant State’s At­tor­ney An­drea Ma­son said of­fi­cers iden­ti­fied Davis as the sus­pect from a rob­bery, chasing and shoot­ing at him after they thought Davis fired at them. She said the of­fi­cers “saw [Davis] with the gun in hand,” just hours after Jones was killed.

But Fine­gar said ev­i­dence showed that Davis never fired a shot. She added that the state did not have any eye­wit­nesses to Jones’ shoot­ing and po­lice never pro­vided a mo­tive or any link be­tween her client and Jones.

Davis ap­peared in court Tues­day in a but­ton-down shirt and blue sweater. More than a dozen sup­port­ers who have lob­bied the state’s at­tor­ney’s of­fice to drop the charges watched the pro­ceed­ings with Davis’ wife, Kelly Holsey Davis.

Sev­eral fam­ily mem­bers of Jones also were in at­ten­dance Tues­day. Some of them got emo­tional as a re­spond­ing of­fi­cer de­scribed find­ing Jones’ body in Pim­lico’s park­ing lot.

Prosecutors are again ex­pected to call Davis’ former cell­mate at the Jes­sup Cor­rec­tional In­sti­tu­tion, David Gutier­rez, to the stand. But fol­low­ing Davis’ con­vic­tion at his sec­ond trial, his at­tor­ney, Latoya Fran­cis-Wil­liams, filed a mo­tion for a new trial, ar­gu­ing that key in­for­ma­tion about Gutier­rez had been with­held.

Cir­cuit Judge Lynn Ste­wart Mays re­versed the con­vic­tion in December be­cause she said there was a sig­nif­i­cant pos­si­bil­ity that undis­closed in­for­ma­tion about Gutier­rez’s role in a Texas gang mur­der could have changed the out­come of the trial.

Fine­gar in­di­cated dur­ing the mo­tions hear­ing Tues­day that she planned to ques­tion Gutier­rez about recorded jail phone calls he made, which she said would raise doubt about his cred­i­bil­ity.

Dur­ing early tes­ti­mony Tues­day, prosecutors called sev­eral of­fi­cers who fired at Davis. Of­fi­cer Lane Eskins said he was at the scene of an ac­ci­dent in the North­west District when a car ap­proached and he saw Davis get out of the pas­sen­ger side car­ry­ing a gun and start run­ning. The of­fi­cer fol­lowed him to a garage, where Eskins and sev­eral other of­fi­cers fired at Davis.

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