Keith Davis Jr. was convicted on second-degree murder and use of a firearm in a violent crime charges in the shooting death of Kevin Jones, a security guard at Pimlico Race Course who was shot and killed near the track on the morning of June 7, 2015.
The jury of eight African-American women, two white men, and two African-American men acquitted Davis of a first-degree murder charge.
Following the verdict, Baltimore City Police Commissioner Kevin Davis arrived outside the courthouse to meet with Jones' parents, Gloria Hill and Reginald Jones.
"I'm so sorry for your loss," he told them.
He offered more words of condolence and hugged Hill as she wiped away tears.
During closing arguments this morning, Assistant State's Attorney Andrea Mason laid out phone data records, FBI phone tracking, fingerprints, DNA evidence, and testimony from Baltimore Police officers that she said all pointed to Davis.
The defense's only alibi witness was Carla Hines, who testified she was with Davis from the evening of June 6 until 9 a.m. on June 7 watching movies. On the stand, Hines said Davis was on the phone with his then-girlfriend, now-wife, Kelly Davis, for the majority of that time.
Mason highlighted phone data that showed Davis made phone calls and texts to various people throughout the evening and into the morning, including calls to the father of Hines' daughter, Dwon, who was allegedly in the house watching movies as well.
About 4 a.m., nearly an hour before Jones was shot, Kelly texted Keith and asked him to go back inside.
"I know how you roll, but I'm still nervous as all hell," she wrote. "I wish you would find your way into the house."
An FBI analyst was able to triangulate the position of Davis' phone to the cell tower nearest the race track around the time of the shooting, Mason told the jury.
Hours later and several blocks away, a hack told a police wagon driver assisting at a car crash that a man was trying to rob him with a gun. That officer, Lane Eskins, testified he chased the man into a nearby car garage. Other officers arrived on the scene.
When the man failed to put his gun down and started pointing toward the officers, police unloaded 40 rounds, striking the man three times, including in the face. That man was Davis, police said.
The defense has always maintained the police chased the wrong guy after losing sight of the robber, and during her closing remarks this afternoon, attorney Latoya Francis-Williams hammered at inconsistencies in the Baltimore Police Department's account of events.
Eskins initially said he was chasing a man with locks or braids, a hairstyle Davis did not have at the time. She referred to the testimony of an officer who saw a man running across the street with a gun but did not immediately see Eskins, who said he was right behind.
And during Davis' 2016 trial for the robbery of the hack, the driver, Charles Holden, said that Davis didn't "look like" the man who robbed him.
She characterized the police's handling of the investigation as error-prone, saying there were lots of officers milling about the garage after the shooting, though few could answer for what they were doing.
And she said that there was no testimony directly linking Davis to the gun, only that it was later found on top of a refrigerator in the garage. There were palm prints, finger prints, and DNA belonging to Davis on the gun.
"It takes no effort for [the police] to touch that man's hand with a gun," Francis-Williams told the jury.
Advocates for Keith Davis, including Kelly Davis, activist group Baltimore Bloc, and others have noted that accusations that the police planted a gun are far less outrageous to the general public given the massive Gun Task Force police scandal.
Francis-Williams also questioned the specificity of the testimony from a weapons expert who matched the gun with shell casings found at the scene of Jones' murder, which she characterized as vague.
"We're not asking for Bill Nye the Science Guy, but my goodness, can we have some detail?" she asked.
The conviction appears to put an end to the long legal saga of Davis, the first man shot by police following the death of Freddie Gray in police custody.
After numerous delays, Davis went to trial on 16 charges related to the incident in the garage at the beginning of 2016. A jury acquitted him of all but one, convicting him of at some point being in possession of the gun while having a disqualifying prior conviction. Then in March 2016, Davis was charged with Jones' murder—police said they connected the gun from the garage to casings found at the scene of Jones' murder and the FBI's phone evidence.
That case did not go to trial until May of this year, and it ended with a hung jury.
Baltimore Bloc, which has long supported Davis' claim of innocence, provided legal support, raised awareness about the many delays in the trial and the slug that for months remained in Davis' neck, and attended all the trials, released this statement: "Another innocent man has been convicted of a crime he did not commit in Baltimore City. We went from a 11-1 mistrial in favor of Keith Davis Jr's innocence in May to a conviction in less than two hours of deliberation today. How? By allowing the State to argue over and over that Keith Davis Jr. committed an armed robbery, but not allow his Defense to clarify that he was already acquitted of those charges. How else? By not allowing Keith's Defense to introduce evidence or inform the jury that the gun the State claims Keith used to commit a murder according to the police's own firearms examiner was never fired on the day in question. These are but a few of many examples that show us how Keith Davis Jr was convicted before his trial even concluded."
Kelly Davis released the following statement through Bloc: "I can see all of your text messages, emails, dms and etc....And I want to say thank you soooo much...I AM FINE, Keith IS FINE and the Kids ARE FINE....UNDERSTAND Every media outlet will tell you he was found guilty of 2nd degree murder but, they won’t tell you He really was found guilty of crimes he already had been acquitted of. In a courtroom for an entire week, Keith sat through the same trial he sat through in 2016, that ended in him being acquitted, only this time the State was able to accuse him of robbing someone and etc....Yet his defense was not allowed to defend him by informing the jury that he in fact had already been cleared of all of those charges......So we knew early on we were slighted in that courtroom and what we fighting against....So we were prepared for any outcome especially this one....You don’t come this far in a BATTLE and give up....You process where you are on battlefield, asset the casualties and you pick up the pieces rebuild and carry on ahead. MORE THAN ENOUGH damage was done in that courtroom to CONTINUE TO FIGHT this process, and if for any reason you believe that WE WILL NOT....YOUVE BEEN TUNED INTO THE WRONG CHANNEL....KEITH IS COMING HOME....Just might take a little more time.....So do not be sorry for me....Continue to pray for us as we now suit up and fight through this next process......And while I do agree about one thing the prosecutor said in her closing arguments “He knew Kelly would always have his back” THAT YOU CAN BET YOUR LIFE ON, This isn’t defeat just a delay in his VICTORY #WEGOOD. ~Kelly Davis"
Outside the courthouse, after his meeting with Commissioner Davis, Jones told City Paper he was satisfied "for right now."
"We feel like justice has prevailed," Hill said.
She said her son was a good citizen and a hard-worker who did what he was supposed to do, noting that he was on his way to work on the morning he was killed.
"What more could a mother ask for?"