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On Feb. 7, 2020, Gary Watkins got into an argument with a woman who was like a daughter to him over allegedly stolen drugs, a Baltimore City prosecutor told a jury on May 9. This argument turned deadly when Watkins left and then returned with three masked men, including Dante Gregg, who shot and killed 25-year-old Devante Smith.
Watkins, 58, and Gregg, 21, were both charged with Smith’s murder and began their jury trial on Tuesday before Baltimore City Circuit Court Judge Lawrence Daniels. Defense attorneys John Cox and Staci Pipkin represented Watkins and Gregg, respectively.
According to the prosecutor, Watkins accused the woman’s boyfriend of stealing his marijuana, which led to the argument on the 300 block of South Mason Court. Soon after, the defendant drove off in a Ford F-150, telling the couple he would be back.
When he returned, Watkins was joined by three armed masked men, one of whom was later identified as Gregg. The argument continued, followed by Gregg shooting at the woman, injuring her, and killing Smith, who attempted to shield her.
Cox countered that his client did not have a weapon on him and did not harm anyone.
“Any time we have a death in Baltimore City, it’s tragic…” he said. “But as tragic as that is, it would be more tragic to convict my client of something he didn’t do.”
During her opening statement, Pipkin echoed Cox’s statements, saying that Gregg also did not shoot a gun or harm anyone. As a jury, she continued, jurors much approach the case with a presumption of innocence and move forward to determining guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.
“You start with, ‘These two men did nothing wrong,’” Pipkin said. “[Reasonable doubt] is a logical question that you have. If you have a question at the end of this, that’s reasonable doubt.”
This was clearly a targeted attack on Smith, she concluded, yet neither Watkins, Gregg, or Smith knew one another.
The co-defendants’ trial continued with testimony and is expected to last five days.Follow this case