Baltimore prosecutors on Friday dismissed the criminal charges against Keith Davis Jr., effectively ending the controversial cases that date to the aftermath of Freddie Gray’s death from injuries sustained in Baltimore Police custody.
Those seven years have seen a dizzying number of developments in Davis’ cases as well as clashes outside court between his wife, supporters and former Baltimore State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby. His dedicated supporters also spawned a national campaign with the rallying cry of “Free Keith Davis Jr.”
The following is a timeline with links to past reporting about key events in the saga.
June 7 —
- 4:45 a.m. — Pimlico Race Course security guard Kevin Jones was gunned down on his way to work. He was shot 11 times, including in the face and head, and died in the parking lot of the Northwest Baltimore horse racing track.
- Approximately 10 a.m. — An unlicensed cabdriver flagged down police, saying a man pulled a gun on him and tried to rob him. Officers chased Davis, who they suspected of the robbery, and he took cover in an auto garage. Claiming Davis was armed, four officers fired more than 30 rounds, striking Davis three times. Police said they recovered a handgun near where Davis was taking cover.
June 13 — Police arrested Davis and filed 17 charges against him, including attempted armed robbery of the unlicensed cabdriver and illegal possession of a handgun.
Feb. 25 — A Baltimore jury found Davis not guilty on all charges in the armed robbery case, except for one count of being a prohibited person in possession of a handgun. A judge later sentenced him to the mandatory penalty of five years in prison for the charge.
March 2 — Baltimore prosecutors in the office of then-State’s Attorney Mosby, about a year into the Democrat’s first term in office, charged Davis with murder in the fatal shooting of Jones. Police said ballistics tests revealed that the gun found in the garage fired casings found at the scene of Jones’ killing.
May 8 — Davis’ first murder trial began. Testifying later during the trial, Davis told the jury that police planted the handgun, with no ammunition in it, on top of the refrigerator he took cover behind in the auto garage.
May 16 — Chief Judge Alfred Nance declared a mistrial after jurors said they were deadlocked following two days of deliberations in Davis’ first murder trial. During cross-examination by Davis’ attorney at the time, Latoya Francis-Williams, a firearms examiner testified that he “eyeballed” ballistics to determine a match.
Oct. 17 — After two hours of deliberation, a city jury convicted Davis of second-degree murder in Jones’ killing, bringing to a conclusion his second trial on the murder charges. The state’s attorney’s office tweeted a picture of Mosby embracing someone hours after the verdict. “Victory. Keith Davis Jr. was found guilty,” the tweet said.
Dec. 4 — Baltimore Circuit Judge Lynn Stewart Mays ordered a new trial in Davis’ case after his defense attorney, Francis-Williams, argued that the prosecution withheld information about an inmate who testified that Davis confessed. Mays ruled that the jury received an incomplete version of the witness’s criminal history.
April 10 — Francis-Williams and Davis’ other attorney, Natalie Finegar, revealed that the city’s Civilian Review Board found that four Baltimore officers used excessive force when they opened fire on Davis in the garage almost three years earlier.
June 7 — Davis’ wife, Kelly, and other supporters protested during a state’s attorney candidate debate. Mosby addressed the criticism by proclaiming “violent repeat offenders do not like me,” though Davis hadn’t been convicted of a crime of violence before and his wife had no criminal record.
June 12 — Davis’ third murder trial began. The evidence showed Davis never fired a shot, defense attorney Finegar told the jury.
June 21 — The jury was unable to reach a unanimous verdict, leading the judge to declare a mistrial in Davis’ case for the second time.
July 16 — Davis’ fourth murder trial began. Public defender Deborah Katz Levi, representing Davis, presented the theory that police planted the handgun on Davis after realizing he was unarmed, while the prosecutor told graphic details of Jones’ death.
July 26 — After deliberating for less than a full day, jurors returned a guilty verdict for second-degree murder.
March 2 — Baltimore Circuit Judge Sylvester Cox sentenced Davis to 50 years in prison, the maximum penalty.
May 13 — Cox granted Davis’ request for a new trial, citing a sweeping opinion from the state’s highest court about jury selection, setting the stage for an unprecedented fifth murder trial. Levi had a separate appeal claiming that prosecutors had misrepresented evidence before closing arguments that was rendered moot by Cox’s decision.
May 19 — Mosby flashed her middle finger at a Davis supporter who was riding his bicycle past her at a waterfront bar calling out “Free Keith Davis Jr.” At first, she denied displaying the profane gesture.
May 28 — Prosecutors in Mosby’s office charged Davis with attempted murder following an alleged jailhouse fight that occurred almost a year earlier. A state’s attorney’s office spokeswoman said they filed the charges because he won a new trial and was a “public safety threat.”
July 21 — The nonprofit of prominent activist DeRay Mckesson took up Davis’ defense, launching a campaign to raise awareness about the persistent prosecution and to pressure Mosby to drop the charges.
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March 7 — Escalating the campaign in support of Davis, Mckesson’s organization posted a video featuring audio from one of Davis’ trials, flouting Maryland courts’ ban on broadcasting courtroom audio.
March 9 — Lawyers for Davis, mirroring an argument raised by Mosby in defense of her federal charges, argued in a detailed motion that his cases should be dismissed because of “deep animus, prosecutorial misconduct and vindictiveness” that violated his rights to a fair trial.
June 30 — Circuit Judge John Nugent found there was a “presumption of vindictiveness” behind prosecutors’ decision to charge Davis with attempted murder shortly after he won a new murder trial and almost a year after an alleged jail fight.
July 23 — Defense lawyer Ivan Bates, who vowed over two campaigns for state’s attorney to dismiss Davis’ charges, won the Democratic primary for the city’s top prosecutor position.
Aug. 12 — Nugent held Mosby in contempt of court, determining she violated an order prohibiting public statements about Davis’ case when she replied to a comment about the prosecution on social media, telling a person who posted about the case they “shouldn’t believe everything you read.”
Jan. 13 — At the direction of Bates, who was sworn in less than two weeks earlier, Baltimore prosecutors dropped all of the criminal charges against Davis.
Baltimore Sun librarian Paul McCardell contributed to this article.