A 24-year-old Baltimore man was sentenced to 65 years in prison after pleading guilty to second-degree murder in what prosecutors described as the mistaken identity killing of a Park Heights father.
The State’s Attorney’s Office said Monday that Devante Brim pleaded guilty Friday to killing Kendal Fenwick, a 24-year-old truck driver who was raising three children when he was gunned down outside his home in November 2015.
Brim had been acquitted of first-degree murder last year but jurors deadlocked on other counts against him. In July, Brim lost an appeal to have those charges dismissed.
The case garnered widespread attention after police said they believed Fenwick was targeted because he was building a fence around his home, in the 3500 block of Park Heights Avenue, to prevent drug dealers from coming through his yard. Members of the community rallied to finish building the fence and secure his property.
During Brim’s trial however, Assistant State’s Attorney Patrick Seidel said Fenwick was mistaken for someone else and killed in retaliation for an earlier shooting.
Seidel told jurors that Brim believed that day "the people that shot up his grandma’s house are out there on Park Heights right now,” and that he could “get his revenge.” He said Brim saw only “a silhouette of his intended target, and he fire[d] four times,” killing Fenwick.
Robert Cohen, one of Brim’s public defenders, said Brim told police someone else had killed Fenwick and gave that man's name to investigators. Brim also described the gun he said that man used in the killing.
Seidel said the gun was found in October 2016 and matched the crime scene. But authorities say it was Brim, not the other man, who used it to kill Fenwick.
Brim’s attorneys appealed, saying his continued prosecution was barred under double jeopardy.
“The only real issue before the jury was criminal agency — i.e., was Mr. Brim the person who killed Mr. Fenwick?” his attorneys argued to the Court of Special Appeals. Because prosecutors pursued a theory that the killing was premeditated, the jury’s acquittal on the first-degree murder count decided an issue of “ultimate fact” that could not be litigated again, they said.
Online court records show Brim faced an October trial date, but a spokeswoman for the State’s Attorney’s Office said he pleaded guilty Friday to Fenwick’s killing while being sentenced in a related case. Brim also was convicted in a burglary case, and prosecutors dropped attempted murder charges.
Judge Christopher Panos sentenced Brim to the maximum of 50 years for Fenwick’s killing, with a total of 65 years combined with the other counts.
“I’m pleased that with the closure of this trial, we were finally able to give the Fenwick family the justice they deserve and allow them to continue to heal from this tremendous loss,” Seidel said in a statement Monday.
Seidel was recently assigned to prosecute the fourth trial of Keith Davis Jr., who was shot by police and later charged with the murder of a Pimlico Race Course security guard, Kevin Jones. The prosecutor who had been handling Davis’ murder case, Andrea Mason, was fired in August, a year after she was pulled over and convicted for drunken driving.
Fenwick’s killing was investigated by Det. Sean Suiter, who was fatally shot last November under mysterious circumstances. His death was ruled a homicide, but an outside review panel concluded late last month that he likely took his own life and staged his death to look like a murder.