Freed from jail, Keith Davis Jr. lands softly among friends and family

Keith Davis Jr. hugs his wife Kelly Davis during a celebration of his release from custody after Baltimore State’s Attorney Ivan Bates dropped all charges against Davis.

When he woke up Friday, Keith Davis Jr. was anticipating another dreary day in a Baltimore jail cell.

Within hours, he was in the backseat of his lawyer’s SUV, next to his wife and sister-in-law, motoring up the interstate toward his freedom.


Davis spent more than seven years behind bars, standing trial four times on the same murder charges — allegations he always said he was innocent of.

“It was a long road,” Davis said.


During a brief video hearing Friday, Baltimore prosecutors dismissed Davis’ murder charges in the 2015 shooting of Pimlico Security Guard Kevin Jones and attempted murder charges the city state’s attorney’s office brought after a jailhouse fight.

State’s Attorney Ivan Bates, who took office less than two weeks earlier, said his office couldn’t proceed with the prosecutions in good faith, saying the cases were tainted by the hostility his predecessor, Marilyn Mosby, exhibited toward Davis and his supporters.

Davis rode away from jail with the people who battled Mosby the hardest on his behalf, his wife Kelly and attorney Deborah Katz Levi, to Levi’s house, which was meant to be a “soft landing” for him.

They arrived mid-morning to a group of cheering friends, supporters and family members. Wearing glasses and dressed in sweatpants and a worn, stained white t-shirt, Keith Davis looked the part of a man who had just gotten out of jail.

Through the years behind bars, Keith Davis said there were times he wasn’t sure he would make it.

“At times it had gotten into some dark areas, and you feel lost,” he said. “I think the circumstances were kind of overwhelming. You feel sometimes like you’re dead, but you’re alive. You’re the walking dead.”

What kept him going?

“My wife.”


Smiling ear-to-ear, he and Kelly hugged and kissed, not wanting to let go of each other after spending seven years apart — the pair were dating when Davis was first arrested, and married while he was incarcerated.

Kelly Davis wiped tears from her eyes several times, her war against the system that kept her from her husband finally over. She said she hadn’t slept all week, awaiting the day she admittedly quit dreaming about years ago.

“I’m exhausted,” she said.

Keith Davis posed for pictures with the roughly dozen people there to cheer him on. If there was a hiccup in the celebration, it was the too-small wedding band he struggled to remove in exchange for a bigger one. He was not allowed to wear one while incarcerated, and had long told his wife the item was the one thing he most wanted.

DeRay Mckesson, a Baltimore-born civil rights activist and founder of the nonprofit Campaign Zero, which works to advocate for a more equitable justice system, embraced Keith Davis. Kelly Davis works for Campaign Zero, and the nonprofit built a website designed to shine a light on the prosecutorial and police missteps and misconduct in Keith Davis’ legal saga.

“Sometimes we win,” a joyous Mckesson told the couple. “Sometimes we win.”


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A lawyer by trade, Levi turned into an air-traffic controller, directing people to give Keith and Kelly Davis space so they could have a moment to themselves, the first since his release moments earlier, and so he could shower and change clothes.

Thirty minutes and one request for a “wash rag” later, Keith Davis, still smiling, emerged from Levi’s basement dressed in a crisp, clean white shirt, new jeans, new boots and new glasses. But the remnants of the past seven years, scars on his face and neck from where Baltimore Police shot him in 2015, remain.

Standing in Levi’s living room petting her Goldendoodle, Oscar, Keith Davis was less than 20 miles from the Baltimore jail. Mentally he couldn’t have been further.

Mckesson presented a wide-eyed Keith Davis with a new iPhone, with Davis staring like he was just handed something straight out of the future.

But Keith needed to eat, for which his supporters had the ideal meal: a crab cake.

Time was limited, however, as the couple had plans to go somewhere quiet, out of Maryland, where they could decompress and reconnect after the emotional and exhausting journey.


Then they planned to hit the road again, to Kelly’s four children, who consider Keith their father, and the people he was most looking forward to seeing. To his new home.