Keith Davis Jr., man at center of controversial police shooting case, now charged with murder

Keith Davis Jr., man at center of controversial police shooting case, now charged with murder

A man shot in the face in a controversial run-in with police last summer has now been charged with first-degree murder in a separate incident from the same morning.

Keith Davis Jr., 24, was convicted just last week of a single gun charge in connection to the first incident, in which prosecutors said he tried to rob a hack driver before running from police and hiding in an auto garage. A jury acquitted him of trying to rob the driver and of several firearm violations, but convicted him of illegally possessing a handgun.

Prosecutors said a gun Davis had wielded in the garage, and which police recovered after shooting him, carried his palm print.

On Wednesday, Baltimore Police Commissioner Kevin Davis said ballistics records from that same gun matched those in the killing of 22-year-old Kevin Jones about five hours before and a half-mile away from where Keith Davis ran from the police on the morning of June 7. The commissioner said cell phone records "recovered and examined by the FBI" also placed Davis "in direct proximity" to where Jones was killed at the time the fatal shooting occurred.

Jones worked as a security guard at Pimlico Race Course and had just been accepted into community college before he was killed. Police believe it was a robbery gone wrong, with Jones left shot just before his shift began at 5 a.m. at the race course.

Police would not provide a timeline for when the evidence was collected and pieced together, but Commissioner Davis said the decision to bring the murder charge had nothing to do with Davis' trial last week. Police had simply reached a point with prosecutors and their FBI partners where they felt the evidence supported the charge.

"It's a strong case," the commissioner said. "This case was brought forward simply on behalf of justice."

Latoya Francis-Williams, Davis' defense attorney, questioned that claim and said she would be "ready to rumble" if Davis retained her to defend him again.

"Knowing what we know from the first trial, this is, quite frankly, an outrage," she said. "If, in fact, the state's attorney's office is basing this on that partial palm print, they don't have much of anything."

Francis-Williams said the palm print is "more than suspect" and "what I call 'junk science,'" though she declined to elaborate in order to protect any potential trial strategy.

The jury convicted Davis on the single gun charged based on the print, but also acquitted him of other gun possession charges despite it.

Kelly Holsey, Davis' fiance, said the new charge solidifies her belief that he is being targeted because police don't want to admit they shot an innocent man.

"They still have that same sad palm print that didn't prove anything last time. It's a desperate plea in trying to cover their own tracks," she said. "His freedom has been taken away based on hogwash."

Davis, who remains behind bars, faces a mandatory minimum sentence of five years in prison without the possibility of parole at his sentencing April 20 on the gun charge. A trial date has not been set for the murder charge.

Commissioner Davis said claims the case was being brought for any reason other than justice for Kevin Jones is "absurd." He described Jones as "just the type of young man that our city and our society should applaud."

T.J. Smith, a police spokesman, said Jones' family — who could not be reached for comment Wednesday night — cried when told a suspect had been charged in the case. They still miss Jones dearly and deserve closure, Smith said.

"He was a funny young man who would do anything for anyone," Smith said. "They called him an old soul."

krector@baltsun.com

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