A Baltimore judge on Wednesday scheduled the fifth murder trial of Keith Davis Jr. to begin in 2023, when a new state’s attorney who has expressed a willingness to drop the controversial case will be in office.
Circuit Judge Melissa M. Phinn held a brief hearing over Zoom with Deputy State’s Attorney Noelle Newman as well as Davis’ attorneys, Deborah Katz Levi and Andrew Northrup, and set the case to begin on May 2, 2023.
Davis, 30, of Reisterstown, is charged with second-degree murder and using a firearm in a crime of violence in the deadly shooting of Kevin Jones, a security guard at Pimlico Race Course, on June 7, 2015.
Ivan Bates, the Democratic nominee and presumptive next state’s attorney in Baltimore, previously told The Baltimore Banner that he would drop the charges against Davis, or, upon the request of Jones’ family, refer the case to an outside jurisdiction for review.
Now that he’s the Democratic nominee, Bates said he ethically cannot discuss the case, but stated that he’s a “big believer of keeping my word.”
Here’s what happened in the first four trials:
- On May 16, 2017, Circuit Judge Alfred Nance declared a mistrial after a jury could not reach a unanimous verdict.
- On Oct. 17, 2017, Davis was found guilty of second-degree murder and using a firearm during the commission of a crime of violence. Circuit Judge Lynn Stewart Mays later granted a request for a new trial.
- On June 21, 2018, Circuit Judge Althea M. Handy declared a mistrial after a jury deadlocked.
- On July 26, 2019, Davis was found guilty of second-degree murder and using a firearm during the commission of a crime of violence. Circuit Judge Sylvester B. Cox sentenced him in 2020 to serve 50 years in prison — but later granted a motion for a new trial.
Davis maintains his innocence and asserts that police planted a handgun near him. Supporters and social justice advocates such as DeRay Mckesson have condemned State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby for her continued attempts to prosecute the case.
Meanwhile, Circuit Judge John S. Nugent has ordered Mosby to appear in court on Aug. 12 to defend against allegations that she violated a gag order in the case.
That’s after she appeared on WYPR, acknowledged the gag order and then stated, “I can just tell you, in that particular case, I’m concerned about the victim. And I’m going to fight for them the same way I fight for every victim in the city of Baltimore.”
Nugent separately found a “presumption of vindictiveness” in the state’s decision to bring separate charges of attempted first-degree murder and related offenses against Davis in a jailhouse fight, after a judge awarded him a fifth trial.
Davis is being held without bail in the Maryland Reception, Diagnostic and Classification Center, according to online records.