By Stephen Janis, Special to the AFRO
A seemingly endless legal quagmire that has resulted in three separate murder trials for Baltimore resident Keith Davis, again ended without resolution this week after a jury failed to return a verdict and a judge declared a mistrial in the killing of Kevin Jones.
The latest effort by prosecutors to convict Davis of gunning down Jones in 2015 was again punctuated with twist and turns, including new surveillance video that Davis’ defense said pointed to an alternate yet-to-be identified suspect.
Youtube Screenshot (Courtesy Photo/Baltimore BLOC)
The video shows a man walking towards the murder scene while placing a makeshift mask over his face. The defense argued the person captured in the footage is not Davis. Meanwhile, a detective testified during the trial that the video was not relevant to the case.
“I do believe it is exculpatory,” Latoya Francis-Williams, Davis’ attorney told the AFRO.
“And it is more than concerning that the lead detective would testify he saw the video and thought there was no evidentiary value,” she added.
The video is one of a myriad of reasons Francis-Williams says the state should not try the case again that alleges Davis shot Jones 11 times in June of 2015 during a robbery.
“This has been draining emotionally, financially and physically,” she said. “Sadly, it is a strategy for the state to wear someone down.”
Prosecutors allege Davis shot Jones while he was working as a security guard at Pimlico Racetrack. Police eventually cornered Davis at a nearby garage where he was shot by an officer.
They continue to point to forensic evidence as key to their case. Davis’ fingerprints were found on the gun used to shoot Jones. Cell phone tracking records placed him in the vicinity of the parking lot where Jones was shot during the time the murder occurred.
“We are committed to obtaining justice for the victim in this case so we will reassess and make a determination about the next steps soon,” State’s Attorney Spokesperson Melba Sanders wrote in an email.
But the case has also been marked by controversial evidence and judicial intervention from the onset.
In the second trial after a jury returned a guilty verdict Judge Lynn Stewart Mays granted a motion for a new trial shortly after the defense challenged the veracity of key witness testimony.
That witness, David Gutierrez, testified that Davis took credit for the slaying Jones during several conversations in jail.
But the defense argued in a motion for a new trial he was unreliable because he failed to disclose his connection to a drug related murder in Texas. The motion also argued it would have been impossible for the conversation to occur because Gutierrez and Davis were assigned to different cell blocks.
“They were not even in the same building they were never on the same tier, they could not have been in the same cell,” Francis-Williams, told the AFRO shortly after the judge’s decision to grant a new trial.
In court filings after the second trial, prosecutors argue that Gutierrez was not only a credible witness, but interacted with Davis while selling him alcohol from his cell; during which Gutierrez claims the conversations he recounted occurred.