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Baltimore judge denies bail to Keith Davis Jr.; a fifth murder trial is set for next year

A Baltimore Circuit Judge denied bail Wednesday to Keith Davis Jr., ordering him behind bars until his fifth murder trial, which is set for next year.

The denial followed exhaustive arguments from Davis’ public defender, who claims the battery of prosecutions, insufficient medical care in prison, and what she called acts of bad faith by prosecutors amounts to cruel and unusual punishment.

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Solomon Mercer, right, a youth activist, speaks at a news conference in support of Keith Davis Jr. in front of the Clarence Mitchell Courthouse in June.
Solomon Mercer, right, a youth activist, speaks at a news conference in support of Keith Davis Jr. in front of the Clarence Mitchell Courthouse in June. (Barbara Haddock Taylor)

Prosecutors, however, maintained that Davis poses a threat to public safety, saying the 29-year-old was cited three times for fights in prison and once for ignoring commands and firing off sharp words to correctional officers.

Judge Robert Taylor Jr. made no comment on his decision to deny bail.

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The hearing brought a rare chance for Davis to be released in the controversial, politically charged murder case. He’s been tried four times for murdering Pimlico security guard Kevin Jones in the early morning hours in June 2015.

His first trial resulted in a hung jury. A conviction in his second trial was overturned. His third trial brought another hung jury. Then he was convicted and sentenced to 50 years in prison, but his case was overturned again. The legal saga has dragged on for six years.

When his latest conviction was overturned two months ago, prosecutors filed new charges against him, alleging he stabbed another inmate during a jailhouse fight. He’s due in court later this month for an arraignment on those charges. He’s scheduled to be retried next year for the Pimlico murder.

Deborah Katz Levi, the director of special litigation for the public defender’s office, accused police and prosecutors of falsely claiming there is surveillance video that captured the knife attack in jail.

“It was a closed-fist jail fight,” she said. “There’s nothing to indicate puncture wounds or stab wounds . . . No weapon could ever be recovered.”

In a wide ranging presentation, she laid out the history of the case tracing back to the days after the riots over the death of Freddie Gray. After a report of a robbery, police chased Davis into a garage and fired 30 to 40 shots, grievously wounding him.

Police claimed to find the gun that murdered Jones as they took Davis into custody; Levi and his supporters dispute that the gun matches.

Despite four trials, prosecutors have been unable to convict him and have the verdict stick. Meanwhile, a growing number of family, friends and social justice advocates have organized around his case and protested Baltimore State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby.

Tension between the sides continues to escalate with one supporter approaching Mosby at a waterfront bar two months ago and calling out “Free Keith Davis Jr. !” She flipped him off.

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