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Defense links weapon in Keith Davis Jr. murder trial to local gun shop popular among cops

A gun consignment shop, one frequented by off-duty police, was the last known location of a target pistol allegedly found on Keith Davis Jr. and used to gun down a Pimlico security guard, a witness testified Wednesday.

Ronald Gorman told a Baltimore jury that he consigned his Hammerli pistol to sell at a gun shop -- maybe Otto’s Police Supply or Barts Sports World, he said -- at least a decade before the killing. He couldn’t explain why state records still list him as the registered owner.

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“My understanding was it was sold,” Gorman told the jury, adding that both of the gun shops are popular among area law enforcement officers.

His testimony came as defense attorneys try to convince jurors that Baltimore Police officers planted Gorman’s old pistol on Davis to cover their tracks after shooting the 27-year-old in Northwest Baltimore. Davis’ trial team called witnesses in his defense Wednesday.

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His week-long murder trial in Baltimore Circuit Court is expected to finish Thursday with closing arguments. Then the jury is to decide whether the Howard County man murdered Kevin Jones in the parking lot of Pimlico Race Course four years ago.

Jones, 22, was trailed by a masked gunman as he walked to work before sunrise in June 2015. He was shot 11 times and killed. A few hours later, prosecutors say, police chased an armed Davis less than a mile away. They cornered him in a mechanic’s garage -- one officer testified that Davis pointed the pistol at them -- and opened fire, wounding him grievously.

Davis’ pistol matched the gun used to kill Jones, prosecutors told the jury. Last week, police lab technicians testified to matching the pistol with shell casings around Jones’ body. They testified to finding Davis’ fingerprints on the pistol, too.

Prosecutors tried three previous times to convict Davis of the murder. But two trials ended with a deadlocked jury and once the judge threw out his conviction. The case, meanwhile, has become highly politicized. It was debated during last year’s race for Baltimore state’s attorney. “Free Keith Davis!” has become a rallying cry for city activists drawing attention to police misconduct.

A fourth trial began last week, and it brought a break from the routine of the past. Prosecutors did not call homicide Det. Mark Veney to testify, though he led the investigation into Jones’ killing.

Instead, it was the defense attorneys who questioned Veney. Defense attorney Brandon Taylor pressed Veney on why the detective pocketed two cellphones from Jones’ body and failed to submit them as evidence for 11 months.

“What did you do with those cellphones?” Taylor asked.

The phones contained no clues about the killing, Veney said. He said he intended to return them to Jones’ family.

“Why did you keep the phones?” Taylor asked again.

“Because I didn’t deem them as having evidence,” Veney said.

He stored them in a locker in his office, he said.

“You just kept them yourself?” Taylor asked.

“Yes, I did.”

It’s among the departures in procedure that have fueled theories of a police cover up. Defense attorneys also questioned Daniel Lamont from the police firearms lab. He said he found no gunshot residue left inside the barrel of the pistol, but that doesn’t necessarily mean it wasn’t fired.

“Information related to Mr. Jones’ criminal history, his prior behavior,” Assistant Public Defender Deborah Levi told the judge last week, “that would motivate someone to kill him.”

On Wednesday, Taylor asked Ofc. Paul Heffernan about items found on Jones’ body, particularly a vial the officer had described as “perfume” in his report.

Taylor handed him the “perfume” vial to take another look. He asked the officer read the label aloud.

“Pour entire contents into specimen cup then urinate.”

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