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Murder defendant takes witness stand, says police planted gun after shooting him

Murder defendant takes witness stand, says police planted gun after shooting him
Kevin Jones, 22, was killed in June 2015 while on his way to work as a security guard at Pimlico race course.. (Baltimore Police)

A Baltimore man on trial for murder who was earlier at the center of a controversial police shooting took the stand Friday and accused police of planting a gun after shooting him.

Keith Davis Jr., 25, said he was wrongly pursued as a robbery suspect on June 7, 2015, and took refuge in a Park Heights garage. He was wounded after police fired 40 shots at him.

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Police said a gun bearing his fingerprints found in the garage was the same weapon used in the fatal shooting five hours earlier of Pimlico Race Course security guard Kevin Jones, 22.

"I believe they put that gun on me," Davis testified, because "they didn't have a reason to shoot me."

Assistant State's Attorney Andrea Mason said jurors would have to "suspend reality" to believe the gun was planted.

"This is not a crime drama. This is not a lawyer show," Mason said.

Jurors began deliberating the case late Friday. Davis is charged with first-degree murder, second-degree murder and a handgun violation in the killing of Jones, who was shot 11 times just before 5 a.m. in a parking lot next to Pimlico as he arrived for work.

Prosecutors said that in addition to the fingerprints on the gun, cellphone tower records place Davis in the area at the time of the killing.

The defense offered an alibi witness who said she was with Davis the night before and that he did not leave her home until around 9 a.m.

Davis was tried last year in connection with the police-involved shooting. Jurors acquitted him of all but one charge, which was related to his fingerprints being found on the gun. A week later, Davis was charged with killing Jones.

At his murder trial, as in his first trial, Davis' attorney Latoya Francis-Williams noted inconsistencies in the accounts of the police shooting that led to the recovery of the gun. An unlicensed cabdriver had flagged down police around 10 a.m. saying a man tried to rob him at gunpoint, and an officer said he gave chase after seeing the suspect jump out of a car.

But the officer described the suspect as having braids, while Davis had close-cropped hair. The taxi driver, at the first trial, also said Davis did not look like the man who tried to rob him.

Davis, of Columbia, said he had been in the Park Heights area after attending a cookout Saturday evening, and had stopped at a corner store Sunday morning on the way to his family's bail bond business when he saw a man with a gun in an alley. He said he instinctively started running, and ducked into the garage.

"The door was open, and there was a guy running around with a gun," Davis said. "I didn't know they were police shooting at me until I got to the hospital."

The gun was recovered from the top of a refrigerator, which police said Davis had hid behind. His fingerprint was outlined in blood on the gun, police said. Francis-Williams questioned the methodology of the ballistics examiner who linked the weapon to the killing of Jones, saying he only "eyeballed" the bullets to determine a match.

The only witness to the shooting said he believed the suspect was in his late 30s or early 40s, while police recovered no video footage from an area closed-circuit camera. The lead detective said he was told the camera didn't capture any useful footage of the shooting.

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Francis-Williams said police conspired to pin crimes on Davis.

"Only in Baltimore, if you are gunned down or victimized, you will be made to defend yourself no matter what you did or did not do," Francis-Williams said.

"Instead of admitting, 'I shot the wrong person,' he's going to double down," she said of the officers who fired.

Mason, the prosecutor, said that if police worked together to set up Davis, they would have left the planted gun in his hand "for the world to see" instead of putting it on the refrigerator. She dismissed the officer's misidentification of Davis' hairstyle as an honest mistake that showed he hadn't plotted to create a story.

She noted that the gun that police said contained Davis' fingerprints was not loaded. The gun holds 10 rounds plus one in the chamber; Jones was shot 11 times.

"The gun wasn't loaded, because all of the bullets were fired into the body of Kevin Jones," Mason said.

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