Murder Defendant Gets 5th Trial in Controversial Case

A homicide defendant, who has spent six years in jail, received another trial date during postponement court on June 29. Judge Melissa M.Phinn also heard two other homicide cases and one non-fatal shooting case.

Keith Davis, Jr., will go to trial for the fifth time on May 16, 2022, in connection to a June 2015 homicide.

Davis, 29, a resident of Reisterstown, Maryland, was sentenced in 2020 to 50 years in prison for second-degree murder and use of a firearm in a violent crime. 

Prosecutors allege Davis fatally shot Kevin Jones, a Pimlico Security guard, who was on his way to work. However, that conviction was vacated in May, and the case was remanded for a new trial. Two of Davis’ previous trials resulted in hung juries, and another was overturned by an appellate court.

This saga began on June 7, 2015, when officers pursued Davis into a parking garage, believing him to be a suspect in an armed robbery. According to The Intercept, once in the garage, police said Davis pointed a gun at them, leading officers to discharge 44 rounds at him. Davis was shot three times. 

A handgun was later recovered from the scene, which Davis’ defense team argues was planted by police. 

According to the Baltimore Sun, Davis was acquitted on the robbery charges, but convicted of illegally carrying a handgun and sentenced to five years in prison in March 2016. 

Several weeks later, new charges were brought against him after ballistics records linked the gun found in the garage to a murder. 

Prosecutors alleged that on the same day, hours prior to the robbery, Davis used the gun to murder Jones. 

Davis denies that he killed Jones and has maintained his innocence since his arrest. 

Davis is represented by defense attorneys Deborah Levi, Nancy Forster and Edwin MacVaugh. 

Judge Phinn set the hearing dates for pre-trial motions for May 4 through May 6 when Davis and his defense team will challenge the admissibility of the ballistics report. 

Judge John S. Nugent will preside over the proceedings.

The defense said they plan to put six witnesses on the stand, including expert witnesses from across the country, during the trial, which is scheduled to start on May 16 and could last until June 7.

Judge Phinn also heard an even earlier homicide case, relating to a 2010 fatal shooting.

According to the Baltimore Sun, Baltimore resident Tyrell Smith, also known as “Preacherman,” allegedly killed Donte Vandiver on Belnord Avenue on May 24, 2010. 

Smith, 38, is charged with first-degree murder and handgun use in the commission of a crime.

In June, information provided by a confidential informant allowed a DEA task force to identify Smith as the probable shooter.

Smith was eventually arrested on Jun. 22, 2010, in a sting operation that turned into a dramatic car chase across multiple neighborhoods. 

At one point during the chase, an occupant in the same vehicle as Smith threw a loaded pistol out of the window, causing it to fire multiple rounds. 

During the hearing, Smith’s defense team said their client will accept a plea offer in a hearing scheduled for July 6. Smith is represented by defense attorney John Cox and assistant public defenders Madeline Bailey, Elizabeth Hilliard, and Linda Zeit.

Another homicide defendant was scheduled for trial the following month.

Baltimore resident Raquan Baylor allegedly committed a homicide on June 22, 2019. 

Baylor, 25, is charged with first-degree murder, conspiracy to commit first-degree murder, carrying a handgun on his person, and having a handgun in a vehicle on a public road. 

Defense attorney Michael Tomko indicated that Baylor wanted to go to trial, which Judge Phinn scheduled for Aug. 15. 

Judge Phinn also scheduled a trial for Baltimore resident Devonta Cox, 28, who is allegedly connected to a non-fatal shooting on Oct. 11, 2020. 

Cox faces 15 charges: attempted first and second-degree murder, first and second-degree assault, reckless endangerment, illegal possession of ammunition, failure to comply with a peace order, firearm use in a violent crime, having a handgun on his person, possession of a firearm, discharging a firearm, as well as two counts of firearm possession with a felony conviction and illegal possession of a regulated firearm. 

On behalf of Cox, defense attorney Roland Brown rejected a plea offer for 35 years in prison and five years of supervised probation. Judge Phinn scheduled a jury trial for Dec. 13.