The following is a timeline of events in the case of Keith Davis Jr., who was tried four times for murder and whose case became a rallying cry for social justice activists in Baltimore. Upon the request of prosecutors, a Baltimore judge dismissed all charges against Davis on Friday.
June 7, 2015: Pimlico Race Course security guard Kevin Jones, 22, is shot and killed while walking to work before sunrise. Surveillance cameras captured a masked gunman following Jones, who was shot 11 times.
Hours later, police chased Davis into a mechanic’s garage about a mile away and opened fire. He was shot multiple times and grievously wounded. Police said they were responding to a report of an attempted robbery of a hack cab driver when they chased Davis. He was later acquitted of all charges from the incident except for a handgun charge related to a distinctive target pistol found inside the garage after he was shot.
March 3, 2016: Davis is charged with first-degree murder in the killing of Jones. Authorities said the target pistol found in the garage matched shell casings around the body of Jones.
May 8, 2017: Davis is tried for murder for the first time in Baltimore Circuit Court. The jury is unable to reach a verdict and Circuit Judge Alfred Nance declares a mistrial. Davis’ case is postponed for five months.
October 10, 2017: Davis is tried a second time for murder. A jury convicts him of second-degree murder and a gun charge.
December 4, 2017: Circuit Judge Lynn Stewart Mays grants Davis a new trial. He appealed on grounds that jurors did not hear the full criminal history of a prison witness whose testimony was used to convict him.
June 8, 2018: Davis is tried for a third time. The jury is unable to reach a unanimous verdict. Judge Althea Handy declares a mistrial and the case is postponed a year.
July 26, 2019: Davis is tried for a fourth time and convicted of second-degree murder and a gun charge. Prosecutors argued his clothing matched that worn by the killer in the surveillance video, that cellphone records placed him at the scene, and that the pistol from the garage matched the murder weapon. His defense attorney presented a theory that police planted the gun to cover their tracks after mistakenly shooting an unarmed Davis.
March 2, 2020: Baltimore Circuit Judge Sylvester Cox sentenced Davis to 50 years in prison, the maximum penalty under the law.
May 13, 2021: Judge Sylvester Cox grants a fifth trial for Davis. His attorney had appealed the conviction based on an appellate opinion in another case called Kazadi v. State.
In that case, the state’s highest court found that, upon the request of a defense attorney, a judge must question perspective jurors about their understanding of legal principles such as the presumption of innocence and a defendant’s right not to testify. Deborah Katz Levi, the director of special litigation for the public defender’s office and an attorney for Davis, had argued that she was not permitted to ask such questions when choosing the jury for Davis’ fourth murder trial.
She asked for Davis to be released until his fifth trial.
May 28, 2021: With her request pending, prosecutors filed new charges against Davis, for attempted murder, over an alleged prison fight that happened almost a year earlier. They accused Davis of attacking another inmate inside a cell at the the Maryland Reception, Diagnostic and Classification Center in Baltimore. Prosecutors explained their long delay in charging him by saying they were waiting for the judge’s decision on his appeal.
His defense attorney, Levi, called the charges politically motivated and accused Baltimore State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby of harboring a vendetta against her client. She sought to have the charges thrown out.
Mosby faced sharp criticism from activists who demanded she drop the charges and free Davis. Cellphone video captured her flipping the middle finger to a man who confronted her at a bar and shouted “Free Keith Davis.”
July 23, 2022: Ivan Bates defeats Mosby to win the Democratic primary election for Baltimore state’s attorney. During his campaign, Bates said he would drop the charges against Davis. Or upon the request of Jones’ family, he would refer the case to another jurisdiction for an independent review. Davis’ fifth murder trial is scheduled for May 2, 2023.
Jan 3, 2023: Bates is sworn-in as the Baltimore state’s attorney.
Jan. 13, 2023: At the request of prosecutors, Baltimore Circuit Judge Melissa Phinn dismisses all criminal charges against Keith Davis Jr.