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Crime

Judge orders Baltimore State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby to appear in court on alleged violation of gag order in Keith Davis Jr. case

A city judge has ordered Baltimore State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby to appear in court to defend herself against allegations that she violated his order by talking on the radio about the murder case of Keith Davis Jr.

Circuit Court Judge John S. Nugent scheduled a hearing for Aug. 12, requiring Mosby to shows up and explain why he shouldn’t hold her in contempt of court for an alleged violation of a gag order he issued June 7.

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Intended to subdue public discourse by officials associated with the case, Nugent’s order prohibits prosecutors, defense attorneys and their support staffs from making “any extrajudicial statement ... intended to influence public opinion regarding the merits of the cases” of Davis, who faces unrelated murder and attempted murder charges filed years apart.

Nugent expressly said the order applied to Mosby, whose signature appears on every court paper filed by prosecutors in the case.

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Mosby’s office is trying Davis for the fifth time on murder charges stemming from the fatal shooting of Pimlico Race Course security guard Kevin Jones, who was gunned down early in the morning June 7, 2015, while on the way to work at the horse track.

Supporters of Davis have called on Mosby to drop the charges against him rather than continue the repeated prosecutions, becoming a thorn in the side of the city’s two-term Democratic elected prosecutor. She’s seeking reelection, and the contempt hearing comes after the July 19 primary.

Assistant state’s attorneys assigned to Davis’ case requested the gag order and asked for it to apply to the lawyers, as well as Davis’ wife, Kelly, and activist DeRay Mckesson, who launched a “Free Keith Davis Jr.” campaign with his organization Campaign Zero to pressure Mosby.

Nugent issued a gag order but said that he had no authority over Kelly Davis or Mckesson, whose commentary he said was protected by the First Amendment.

Within an hour of the order taking effect, Mosby appeared on Baltimore public radio station WYPR-FM‘s “Midday” program. Host Tom Hall asked the state’s attorney questions on a range of topics, including the repeated prosecutions of Davis.

Mosby acknowledged that a gag order had been granted and did not refer to Davis or Jones by name. She expressed a commitment to advocating for Jones and other homicide victims in the city. Mosby mentioned that a jury deadlocked in two of Davis’ trials and referred to his two overturned convictions. She said the office was committed to pursuing the case.

“Let me just be clear, I can’t talk about the specifics of that case, but I can tell you that we are going to fight, and if a case has nothing substantively to do with the fact that we believe this is the individual who committed the offense, we’re going to fight for justice for that family, and that’s what I’ll continue to do for every family in the City of Baltimore,” Mosby said.

Davis’ public defenders alleged Mosby may have violated the gag order on the radio after the lunch break in court the day Nugent implemented the order. In court, Mosby’s prosecutors’ defended their boss by saying her comments were not meant to sway public opinion. Nugent ordered the defense to file something in writing, providing prosecutors a chance to respond the same way.

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Davis’ lawyers wrote her comments amounted to a violation of Nugent’s order because they were intended to convince listeners that he was guilty of killing Jones when Davis is presumed by law to be innocent of the charges. They also accused Mosby of misleading the public by downplaying the reason one of his convictions was overturned.

In that instance, a judge found that her office withheld information from Davis’ defense. That was his second trial on the same charges in 2017. The first resulted in a hung jury.

A jury deadlocked in his third murder trial. His fourth, in 2019, resulted in a guilty verdict that later was reversed.

Mosby’s office brought the murder charges against Davis seven days after he was largely absolved of an incident that happened the same morning of Jones’ death.

Suspecting Davis of robbing an unlicensed cab driver and alleging he was armed, police chased him into an auto garage and fired 32 rounds at him, striking him three times. Police said they found a handgun in the garage.

At trial on armed robbery charges, a jury acquitted Davis on every count save being a prohibited person in possession of a firearm. Police and prosecutors say the handgun was used to shoot Jones, though the testimony of the firearms examiners who claimed the ballistics match has been scrutinized.

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Mosby’s office has vowed to retry Davis, though the trial won’t happen until 2023. Plea negotiations broke down before hearings earlier this month.


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