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New evidence revealed in Keith Davis Jr. murder trial; defense asks for dismissal

The disclosure of a previously unknown witness led defense attorneys to call for the murder case against Keith Davis Jr. to be thrown out Wednesday.

Testimony from police the day before revealed that officers had talked to a co-worker of slain Pimlico security guard Kevin Jones. Then defense attorneys raced overnight to find and interview the co-worker. By Wednesday morning, they were urging a Baltimore judge to throw out the murder case against Davis.

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The witness had told police information about Jones that would have helped the defense years ago, Assistant Public Defender Deborah Levi said.

“Information related to Mr. Jones’ criminal history, his prior behavior,” she said, “that would motivate someone to kill him.”

Under state law, prosecutors must share evidence helpful to the defense.

“I ask your honor to summon the courage to say this is not OK,” Levi argued.

Baltimore Circuit Judge Sylvester Cox did not immediately rule on her request for a dismissal. The prosecutors made their arguments out of earshot at his bench. Cox was to consider the matter further.

It was the latest drama in the opening days of the fourth murder trial against Davis. Prosecutors have tried three previous times to convict him of murdering Jones in June 2015.

The testimony Tuesday also revealed Baltimore Police detective Staccato Butler had helped retrieve surveillance footage of the crime scene. Butler, however, later resigned from the force after he was indicted on theft charges. Prosecutors accused him of presenting a fake diploma for a pay raise. They dropped the charges after he resigned.

Butler did not return a message left with his attorney late Wednesday.

Levi argued that Butler’s past shows prosecutors are withholding information that would undermine the credibility of their case. She has attempted to put the police department itself on trial, arguing the murder investigation was shoddy, claiming two officers planted the murder weapon, even invoking the corrupt gun squad: the Gun Trace Task Force.

“If the court doesn’t make the state abide by the rules, to what end? To what end does the corruption of the Gun Trace Task Force continue to proliferate?” she said.

Assistant State’s Attorney Patrick Seidel answered her at the bench.

Seidel has told the jury that officers encountered Davis with a gun a few hours after the murder and less than a mile away. They chased him into a mechanic’s garage and shot him inside. Seidel said they recovered from him the same gun used to kill Jones.

Levi has argued that Davis was unarmed and police planted the gun on him to cover their tracks after mistakenly gunning down an unarmed man.

Davis’ first murder trial ended in May 2017 with the jury deadlocked. Five months later, he was tried again and found guilty of second-degree murder. But a judge threw out the conviction because information about a key witness was withheld.

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Prosecutors tried him a third time in June of last year. Again, the jury was deadlocked.

His wife, Kelly Davis, has emerged as a community activist calling for Baltimore State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby to abandon the case. She and her supporters have confronted Mosby at public events and rallied to a drumbeat of “Free Keith Davis!”

Mosby’s political opponents criticized her in the runup to last year’s primary election for continuing to prosecute.

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