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Crime News

Baltimore Man Walks Free After Standing Trial Four Times For Same Murder

Keith Davis Jr., 31, was reunited with his family after the Baltimore State Attorney's Office dropped all charges against him in the 2015 shooting of Kevin Jones.

By Christina Coulter
Killer Motive: What Drives People To Kill?

A Black man tried four times for the same murder of a security guard was exonerated and released from prison on Friday, according to the Maryland State Attorney's Office

Keith Davis Jr., 31, was accused of killing Kevin Jones, a security guard at the Pimlico Race Course Track in Baltimore, on June 7, 2015. Police accused Davis of the shooting, claiming that his gun matched shell casings found at the scene, but Davis maintained his innocence from the beginning, according to reporting by NBC News.

Hours after Jones had been shot, an unlicensed cab driver flagged down Baltimore police and told them he had been held up at gunpoint. Police identified Davis as their suspect, cornered him in a mechanic's garage and shot at him about 44 times, according to the website Free Keith Davis Jr. He was struck by three of those bullets and survived. He was later charged with armed robbery.

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Police claimed after his arrest that Davis was carrying a weapon when he was shot, and that he stashed it on top of a refrigerator in the garage when he was apprehended. However, Davis' defense alleged that the gun was planted after the fact by officers. 

Davis was tried for armed robbery for the incident in 2016 and cleared on all charges, save for one charge of illegal possession of a handgun. But about a week after the trial, he was arrested for Jones' murder after, police said, ballistics testing connected the weapon found in the garage to the racetrack shooting. 

Davis' defense claims that the gun had never been fired, NBC reported. 

Keith Davis Jr.smiles in a vehicle following his released from prison

The jury in Davis' 2017 murder trial could not come to a verdict.

In a second trial that year, a jury pronounced Davis guilty. But a judge overturned that sentence after learning that prosecutors introduced a key witness, described by the Free Keith Davis Jr. site as a "professional jailhouse informant," without informing the court of the witness' background.  

Another jury was hung when the case was retried in 2018.

Following a fourth trial in 2020, the jury returned a second guilty verdict, which was subsequently overturned "due to the judge refusing to allow the appropriate and required pretrial questioning requested by the defense," according to the website.

At the time of his release, Davis was waiting to stand trial for the fifth time on May 5. 

Baltimore City State's Attorney Ivan J. Bates accused his predecessor Marilyn Mosby of "purs[uing] a conviction at all costs" in Davis' case. 

"I fully recognize the pain and anguish that repeated unsuccessful prosecutions have caused the victim’s family, and I truly sympathize with them. Still, as State’s Attorney, I have a duty to ensure justice for all, not just the victim but also the accused," he said in the Jan. 13 release.

Former State Attorney Mosby, who was defeated in the Democratic primary last year while facing perjury charges, did not return requests for comment. However, she told The Associated Press that her office's legal pursuit of Davis "has always been about the pursuit of justice for Kevin Jones and his family."

Deputy State’s Attorney Thomas Donnelly, who conducted the office's review process of Davis' case, wrote that a "blatant disregard for the rules of professional responsibility and the law has permeated throughout the attempted prosecutions of Mr. Davis." 

"The handling of the Pimlico case up to this point... have caused serious questions regarding the integrity and legitimacy of any further prosecution of Mr. Davis," the statement continued.

But Earlene Neals, the slain security guard's grandmother, told The Associated Press that she was disappointed and blindsided by the office's decision to release Davis. She accused Bates of using the case for his own political gain, and expressed doubt that another suspect would be identified in her grandson's murder.

"Our family is destroyed," she told the outlet. "Kevin is getting no justice whatsoever — none."

Davis requested privacy to reconnect with his wife and children following his release on Friday, making no public comments to reporters. However, he was photographed smiling widely from inside a vehicle after walking free, and his ever-supportive wife told the AP that her husband's case was an "indictment of the entire system." 

"I hope people realize, we have watched a wrongful conviction in real-time — and we did not look away," Davis' wife continued. "Keith survived the bullets because that was not the end of his story. It was meant to be so much bigger."