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Life plus 40 years for Baltimore man convicted for a murder, and a rape

Life plus 40 years for Baltimore man convicted for a murder, and a rape
(Gene Sweeney Jr / Baltimore Sun)

They didn't know it at the time, but when Baltimore homicide detectives arrested Benny Davis for murder in 2013, they also were laying the groundwork to close an unsolved rape case.

Davis, 25, was charged in March 2013 with killing D'Andre Thomas in the 2700 block of Fox St. — a shooting that prosecutors said was prompted by nothing more than Davis' girlfriend waking him up too early.

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After his arrest, a standard DNA swab connected Davis to the June 2011 rape of a woman in an alley off Greenmount Avenue.

Two juries found Davis guilty last fall, and on Monday, Circuit Judge Marcus Z. Shar sentenced him to life plus 40 years in prison.

Davis maintained his innocence in both cases and said he did not get a fair trial.

Assistant State's Attorney Traci Robinson called Davis a "danger to society" and a "ticking time bomb waiting for someone else to anger him so he can respond with violence."

On the morning of March 18, 2013, Davis' girlfriend and the mother of their 18-month-old child asked him to turn off the house alarm so she and the child could leave without disturbing others, Robinson said. Davis became enraged and started yelling at her and striking her.

The girlfriend retreated to a friend's house on Fox Street in Remington. It was a place she often fled to when Davis was abusive, Robinson said. But for that reason, Davis knew where to find her.

He appeared outside the home, yelling and attracting the attention of neighbors, and was met by Thomas, 25, who was an acquaintance. Thomas told Davis he needed to calm down and that he shouldn't strike women, Robinson said.

"If you want to hit someone, hit me," Thomas said, according to Robinson.

"I'm going to go to Greenmount, I'm going to get my gun, and I'm going to kill all of you," Davis yelled back, according to Robinson.

Davis did just that, Robinson said. Thomas opened the door to the home later that day and was shot in the stomach; he slammed the door shut and locked it, and collapsed in a living room. Asked who shot him, he responded, "Benny."

More than 20 relatives of Thomas', who went by the name "Dre," attended the sentencing hearing and recalled Thomas as a caring and reliable man. He had a 9-month-old son at the time.

Davis looked directly at them as they detailed their grief over losing Thomas. At earlier court proceedings, Thomas' mother said Davis cursed at her.

"Who failed you in your life?" Thomas' father, James Thomas, asked Davis before urging him to pray for forgiveness.

A relative of Davis' told Shar that Davis was unrepentant because he believes he is innocent.

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Davis' arrest in the murder led to the collection of a DNA sample, which matched evidence from a June 2011 rape that occurred near 35th Street and Greenmount Avenue. The victim in that case had had too many drinks while at a bar, and her friend put her in a cab.

After she was dropped off, she said, two men pulled her into an alley and took turns assaulting her.

Davis' co-defendant in the case, Jermaine Wyatt, pleaded guilty to first-degree rape in May 2014 and received 30 years in prison, with all but 12 years suspended.

The victim testified in Davis' trial but did not appear in court. Assistant State's Attorney Robert Perkins read a letter in which she detailed how the case destroyed her relationships with family and friends as well as her sense of security.

But the strength it took to testify has helped her begin to heal, she said.

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