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Crime

Baltimore man convicted of two murders, conspiracy to commit other offenses during 2019 crime spree

Baltimore County Police detectives got about 10 questions in before Kiray Walker asked for an attorney.

Police had just arrested him and two teenagers after pursuing the trio, who were driving stolen cars. The detectives suspected they had done a string of armed robberies and carjackings crisscrossing the city-county line in the morning of Nov. 14, 2019. They didn’t know about a double homicide in Southwest Baltimore during the crime spree, or that one of their questions would reveal Walker as one of the shooters.

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The detectives asked if the handgun they confiscated from him was his.

“Yeah,” Walker responded.

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Did anyone else hold that gun since midnight? the detectives asked.

“Nah,” Walker said.

In the city three years later, prosecutors’ case against him largely hinged on his admission. A Baltimore Police firearms examiner testified that the Taurus handgun recovered from Walker fired the 9mm shell casings recovered from the 1900 block of McHenry Street, where 22-year-old Ayranna James and 21-year-old Courtney Richardson were shot and killed around 2:30 a.m. the same day.

A jury found Walker guilty Tuesday of two counts each of second-degree murder and conspiracy to commit murder, along with conspiracy to commit carjacking, armed robbery and assault with a deadly weapon. Jurors had been deliberating the 28 counts since Friday afternoon; they convicted on 16 charges.

Walker faces decades in prison at sentencing, which has not yet been scheduled. His defense attorney declined to comment after the verdict.

The trial for codefendant Malik Brooks, 22, began this week and 19-year-old Devon Bynum’s is expected to follow.

Tuesday’s verdict marked Walker’s second conviction stemming from the brazen events of that morning. A Baltimore County jury found him guilty of dozens of charges last August, and a judge sentenced him to 30 years in prison. He has appealed the result in the county.

In county court, Brooks pleaded guilty to armed robbery and use of a firearm in the commission of a violent felony. He got 15 years in prison.

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It’s unclear what came of Bynum’s charges in the county. He was 16 when he accompanied Brooks and Walker, and juvenile court records are not public in Maryland. Except for the murder counts, all of Bynum’s charges in Baltimore were waived to juvenile court. His attorney said earlier this week he maintains his innocence.

Between the city and county, police and prosecutors implicated the young men in two carjackings, five armed robberies and two homicides. They said all of it happened roughly between 1 and 5 a.m. on the cold November morning.

To convince the jury the three conspired to commit various crimes, prosecutors called on several victims from the city and county to testify about what happened to them. Four men testified about being robbed at gunpoint. None could identify their assailants or offer anything more than vague descriptions.

“Dark clothing. Mask. Gun,” a South Baltimore restaurant owner told the jury.

For prosecutors’ case, the most consequential robbery was the first of the morning.

Justin Johnson testified three people wearing masks took his gray Honda Civic around 1:30 a.m. He said one assailant pointed a gun at him. Before long, his sedan with an automatic sunroof screeched out of the Hollins Market neighborhood — about three blocks from Brooks’ residence, a detective later testified.

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A car that looked identical to Johnson’s was pictured on surveillance footage rounding a corner in Carrollton Ridge about an hour later. It came to a stop on Wilhelm Street, at the entrance of Goldsmith Alley.

A Baltimore firefighter washes blood off the southwest corner of Monroe and McHenry Streets where two people were killed early the morning of Nov. 14, 2019.

Video captured by CitiWatch and area business cameras showed three people leave the car and enter the alley. They emerged on the McHenry Street side, with two appearing to extend their arms, as if pointing guns. A group of people gathered near a tattoo parlor scattered. Two people collapsed to the ground. Minutes later, three people got into the Honda parked on the other side of the alley.

Officers found James and Richardson on the sidewalk. Paramedics pronounced James dead, while Richardson died later at the University of Maryland Shock Trauma Center.

Police recovered 10 shell casings or bullet fragments from the sidewalk, alley and street. The ammunition was taken to the city gun lab for analysis.

Before firearms examiner Christopher Faber looked at the evidence under a microscope, another examiner entered close-up pictures of the casings into the Integrated Ballistic Identification System, a law enforcement database that compares fired ammunition collected as evidence from designated regions.

The system alerted to a lead on Dec. 5.: a handgun recovered in Baltimore County, Faber said. Baltimore homicide detective Kimberly Tonsch testified that she asked Faber to “confirm” the potential match and, after examining the spent casings in Baltimore, Faber set off for the Baltimore County ballistics lab.

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Faber testified that he and other firearms examiners test-fired the Taurus handgun recovered from Walker and compared the casings from the test fire to those recovered at the scene of the double homicide.

Assistant State’s Attorney Matt Pillion showed side-by-side photos included in Faber’s report to the jury. With a casing from the scene on one side and the test fire on the other, the two images looked like one.

Faber told the jury about the basis for his profession – that microscopic imperfections created during manufacturing mean each gun inscribes casings with unique marks, almost like a person’s fingerprints — and his finding in this case. He said another examiner from the city and one from the county agreed with his conclusion.

“The lines or striations are continuously flowing from one cartridge casing to the other,” Faber testified, describing a photo. “The fired cartridge cases, the 9mm Luger cartridge cases, were fired by this Taurus firearm.”

Defense attorney Catherine Flynn challenged the forensic analysis process during her closing argument, saying it amounted to police backing up police. She also said her client was likely covering for somebody when he claimed the handgun and noted that nobody ever identified him as participating in any alleged crime.

Back in the police interview room in 2019, before he fell sound asleep in his chair, her client denied stealing anything. Walker told police detectives he was only culpable for one crime.

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“The only thing I did was have a gun,” he told them.


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