In a contentious hearing Friday morning, a Severn man was sentenced to a 14-year prison term after pleading guilty to negligent manslaughter and a traffic offense for crashing a car into a Brooklyn Park home last summer, killing one resident.
Before being sentenced, Christopher Davis, 50, apologized to the family of Gerald Patrick Keogh Jr., who was killed in July 2021 after Davis crashed his fiance’s car into the family’s home on Walton Avenue, pinning Keogh between the car and furniture inside. His wife, Julia Keogh, was home at the time, police wrote in charging documents. Gerald Keogh was 68.
“I can’t imagine the horror of a car bursting into your home,” Anne Arundel Circuit Judge Stacey McCormack said while rendering her sentence. “I can’t imagine the horror of Julia, her husband pinned and she can’t do anything about it.”
Prosecutor Carolynn Grammas presented a slideshow at the hearing, explaining that Davis had failed to stop his vehicle at a stop sign, then ran over a curb, through a chain-link fence, onto the lawn and over a flagpole, before bursting through the home’s front wall.
Davis had fled the scene before first responders arrived to free Keogh from the wreckage, but he was later found “covered in dust and other debris” at a nearby store, and showed signs of drug intoxication, police wrote in charging documents. He was later confirmed to have been using marijuana and cocaine at the time of the incident.
In her presentation, Grammas said Davis was a “major offender” with a criminal record that included offenses committed “soon after” his release from other convictions.
Davis’ lawyer, William Porter, said Davis’ previous offenses were “a product of his drug use.”
Davis’ fiance, employer and family members testified on his behalf. His lawyer told the judge that Davis had started using drugs at a young age while he was growing up in Baltimore’s Park Heights neighborhood, and that he had been “trying to get his life together” in the months before the crash, only to relapse when his sister died.
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When Davis crashed into the Keoghs’ home, “he was at one of the worst points of his life,” Porter said. “He got high, he got behind the wheel of a car, and unfortunately, this tragedy happened.”
McCormack said she wanted to impose a near-maximum sentence, but would suspend a portion to monitor Davis after his release.
“You made the conscious decision that day to get behind the wheel of a car,” McCormack told Davis, noting he had been driving fast enough to get the car “three-quarters deep” into the home. She chided Davis for fleeing the scene of the crash and calling his fiancé, asking her to pick him up without mentioning what had happened.
Davis pleaded guilty to negligent manslaughter and failure to remain on the scene of an accident involving death. McCormack sentenced him to 10 years on the manslaughter charge and 10 years for leaving the scene of an accident, suspended after four years. The sentences are to be served consecutively. He was also placed on five years of supervised probation.
Outside the courthouse in Annapolis, family members described the late Gerald Keogh as a “good man” who loved his family. Keogh’s wife illustrated her grief in a victim impact statement submitted to the court.
“You took my best friend,” Julia Keogh said to Davis in the statement, calling her husband of 33 years her “soulmate.”
”This is truly a tragedy,” Anne Arundel State’s Attorney Anne Colt Leitess said in a statement, adding that Gerald Keogh “was sitting in a recliner chair in his living room recovering from back surgery” when the car crashed into the home, and “had no regard for the victim’s life” when he fled the scene.