The procedures for analyzing fingerprint, DNA, and bullet casings and barrel markings on bullets are varied and police set the subset of testing cohorts depending on who was at a crime scene and the suspects in case. When a defense lawyer states suspicion in police planting gun---then these forensic labs should include those police department employees on scene looking for their DNA----their fingerprints---any connection they may have with the gun at the sight. One of the things repeating itself was------the forensic labs in each case did not approach the analysis from the standpoint the officers on scene MAY HAVE been involved in a planting of gun. In fact some of those forensic witnesses showed a negativity towards thinking police may be the problem. Dusting the gun barrel for fingerprints vs looking for DNA -----deciding one process creates an inability to analyze for another.
One of the best points made by defense surrounded striations on bullets used to identify if a gun was the same gun used at scene. This is a common test -----the defense fought hard to show these tests must cover a spectrum of bullet casings and not only ONE ----because the first shot from a gun often looks the same no matter which gun was used to fire----it is the progression of shots that create the striations allowing for a lab to determine individual markings of one gun and another. This is a VERY IMPORTANT TECHNICAL POINT----Baltimore Police forensic lab only tested that one bullet casing to create the data saying SAME GUN AT ROBBERY SCENE WAS SAME GUN AT MURDER SCENE. There were no bullets in gun at robbery scene or on DAVIS----so the casings at the murder scene became the focus of forensic labs.
What was clear sitting through court testimony is this-----the level of analysis was not qualitative-----it was superficial. Rather than doing multiple testings and use multiple samples as markers----the lab was doing a minimal. They were not looking broadly---
Forensics: Fingerprints can be recovered from fired bullet casings
Photograph: Ian Waldie/Getty Images
This article is 9 years oldJames Randerson, science correspondent
Tuesday 3 June 2008 05.43 EDT First published on Tuesday 3 June 2008 05.43 EDT
Scientists have developed a technique for retrieving fingerprints from bullet casings and bomb fragments after they have been fired or detonated. The new method, which relies on subtle corrosion of metal surfaces is already being applied for the first time anywhere in the world by two British police forces.
The patterns of corrosion remain even after the surface has been cleaned, heated to 600C or even painted over. This means that traces of fingerprints stay on the metal long after the residue from a person's finger has gone.
"All other conventional techniques that the police anywhere in the world would use require some kind of either physical or chemical interaction with the fingerprint residue. So for example if you are using powder the powder sticks to the tackiness in the sweat," said Dr John Bond of the University of Leicester and the Scientific Support Unit of Northamptonshire Police. Instead, the technique he has developed relies on permanent physical changes to the metal.
The chemical basis of the change is not yet clear, but Bond believes it is corrosion by chloride ions from the salt in sweat. These produce lines of corrosion along the ridges of the fingerprint residue. When the metal is heated, for example in a bomb blast or when a gun is fired, the chemical reaction actually speeds up and makes the corrosion more pronounced.
To visualise the patterns, Bond's technique involves passing 2500 volts through the metal and sprinkling a fine conducting powder on it. While the electric field is applied, the powder sticks to the corroded areas.
"If the corrosion's there, it will stay there unless you abrasively clean the metal. The only way to get rid of it is to actually take the surface layer of the metal off," he said. "Some metals corrode very well and some not at all. One metal that works very well is brass and gun cartridge cases happen to be made of brass."
He has published details of the technique in the latest issue of the Journal of Forensic Sciences. In his paper he demonstrates that it is possible to recover fingerprints from a bullet casing ejected when a pistol is fired. "As you are pushing the magazine in you are actually putting a thumb print on the bullet," said Bond. "That's the person you want. That's the guy who loaded the gun."
The Metropolitan Police has asked Bond to look into evidence kept from a 10 year old murder case. He is also using the technique on evidence from a recent murder that is being investigated by Lincolnshire police.
Central to all cases involving fingerprints and DNA is qualitative analysis---is the lab using the best equipment and are they looking broadly to expand evidence. What we are seeing is a DELIBERATE move as with all our public agencies to degrade quality, to add corruption, leading to justification for privatization after which all of the above is SUPER-SIZED.
We want that funding in our local police department forensic labs and we want CHECKS AND BALANCES to assure these police labs are doing the best and broadest checks and balances on evidence. One watches that CSI team---it checks all people at the scene and not only one or two.
So, the defense lawyer for DAVIS was frustrated over and again that the defense's claims of planting the gun did not extend into forensic lab testing and she was RIGHT. A detective attached to the HOMICIDE became attached to the ROBBERY all that same morning.
Police Crime Labs Struggle with Funding, Training and Bias Issues
Houston PD Crime Lab upgrades after critical investigation.
by Jim McKay, Justice and Public Safety Editor / July 8, 2008
Life for Josiah Sutton when he left prison was as uncertain as the evidence that convicted him. Sutton spent the heart of his teenage life in prison for a rape he didn't commit after the culmination of sloppy lab work and negligence by the Houston Police Department (HPD) Crime Laboratory and his defense team.
Sutton could have easily been exonerated with a simple DNA test of an evidence sample. Four years after his conviction, he finally was. At age 21, Sutton walked out of prison in 2003.
The Sutton case was one of more than 3,500 cases processed by the HPD Crime Lab dating back to 1980 that were reviewed by independent investigators after major problems were exposed in late 2002.
The reviews found hundreds of cases where incompetence, inadequate training and resources, lack of guidance and even intentional bias on the part of a crime lab - which is not independent from the HPD - contributed to mistakes.
"It's really a complicated issue not just for this crime lab. With this crime lab, almost everything that could go wrong did go wrong," said Marie Munier, chief of the Public Service Bureau with the Harris County District Attorney's Office, which prosecuted Sutton and others whose cases are still being examined to determine the extent of mistakes and whether they led to wrongful convictions.
Some problems with the HPD Crime Lab - such as underfunding, poor staff training and close ties to police and prosecutors - also may be inherent in crime labs across the country.
A 2004 investigation by the Seattle Post-Intelligencer found 23 DNA testing errors in serious criminal cases handled in a Washington state lab. In North Carolina, the Winston-Salem Journal recently ran a series of articles about many DNA testing errors by the North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation. In Virginia, it took an outside investigation to clear Earl Washington Jr., who was falsely convicted of capital murder and nearly executed. An independent lab reused the same samples that led to his conviction but found contradicting results.
That's not all. DNA testing errors are cropping up nationwide: California, Minnesota, Pennsylvania and Nevada have documented major problems recently.
Munier agreed the troubles are widespread. These issues have prompted critics to call for greater independence among the nation's crime labs, which typically are run by law enforcement agencies.
In Houston, chronic problems with forensic evidence produced by the crime lab resulted in new independent oversight and accreditation of the facility, as well as increased investment in staff salaries, equipment and training.
PRIVATIZATION IS NOT THE ANSWER FOR 99% OF WE THE PEOPLE----WE NEED THAT FUNDING AND BEST EQUIPMENT IN OUR PUBLIC FORENSIC LABS WITH OVERSIGHT AND ACCOUNTABILITY.
"One of the most critical parts of a lab is to have outside scrutiny, and that was not occurring," said Irma Rios, the new director of the Houston lab. The facility now undergoes external and internal audits; proficiency testing and competency testing of the examiners; retesting of completed cases; blind sample testing; testimony monitoring, and internal and external training.
In addition, the lab installed cameras and limited access to personnel with card readers. "We're implementing a laboratory information system where there's a lot of traceability of people," Rios said. "Those are some of the things we've done to increase the monitoring."
In late 2002, television station KHOU in Houston looked into deficiencies of the HPD Crime Lab and asked William Thompson, University of California, Irvine professor and forensic expert, to investigate.
"The problems were just obvious," Thompson said. "They weren't running proper scientific controls. They were giving misleading testimony. They were computing their statistics incorrectly - in a way that was biased against the accused in many cases."
In some cases, Thompson found simple errors where documentation said Sample A matched Sample B, for instance, which was untrue. There were cases where Thompson found inconsistencies between the lab report and what
was said in court.
"Along the way, I encountered this case of Josiah Sutton, where not only did the lab work look sloppy and bad, but it looked like they'd misinterpreted the results in a way that they'd reported something as incriminating when it was exculpatory."
In addition to improper or incomplete lab work, the work wasn't being reviewed by anyone, and in many cases the results weren't available to the defense until trial, at which time it was sometimes declared too late for the defense to get an independent analysis of blood or DNA evidence - if there was any blood or DNA left.
Like most labs, the HPD Crime Lab could barely keep up with its workload because staff were underpaid, lacked training and weren't properly supervised.
In the Sutton case, a lab analyst used "poor technique," and had insufficient training, according to the Bromwich reports, www.hpdlabinvestigation.org, one of the independent looks into the lab. The analyst produced "ambiguous results, reflecting complex mixtures." The report said the lab's murky work was exacerbated by its practice of not accurately explaining just how inconclusive the results were.
During the Sutton trial, for example, the lab analyst testified that the DNA found on the victim was an exact match to Sutton's, when in actuality 1 in 16 black men would be a similar match, according to Thompson. Further, the analyst used all four vaginal swabs, not a necessary or advisable practice, limiting the possibility for retesting.
Though most of the errors can be attributed to sloppiness, incompetence and lack of training, Thompson found that the lab ordinarily erred on the prosecution's side. Lab analysts cut corners by not using control samples to make sure there was no cross-contamination between two samples - a common problem in crime labs. "When I started looking at this, that was the first thing I saw," Thompson said. "Where are the controls? The answer is they didn't have any."
And there was nobody to review or catch the problems - no safeguards in the system.
"To the extent that labs are doing bad lab work, there's a whole series of points at which that should be caught," Thompson said. "The criminal justice system in Houston, and much of Texas, doesn't really function effectively to screen and evaluate scientific evidence, or probably many other kinds of evidence."
Thompson said there were times when well funded defense lawyers would file discovery motions and go to court to get access to lab materials and hire their own lab experts to test the materials. In many cases, they found problems.
"So it wasn't that nobody knew the lab was doing bad work, because the lab had been shown to be doing bad work over the last 10 to 15 years," Thompson said. "Once the well funded private attorneys would win their cases, things would go back to normal - the rest of the lawyers wouldn't pick up on that and take advantage of the insight to do their own work."
The defense attorneys can't be absolved of blame in the problems with some of the cases, but even Munier admitted the defense is playing with a different deck of cards because it doesn't have equal access to the lab tests.
"Our procedures in Texas are more streamlined and the discovery process is more restrictive, so defense attorneys didn't get to see all the stuff from the laboratory until trial sometimes," Munier said. "Were there times when the defense attorney should have looked closely at [the evidence] and said, 'I want this tested' but didn't have it tested? Probably. Were there times when the judge said, 'Sorry, we're going to go to trial anyway'? Probably.
"It's not good. In hindsight, you could say, 'No, they should see the stuff so they can have an expert look at it and say you've got some problems,'" Munier continued. "All these things played a part in the train wreck, and then you have the police department, where the crime lab is seen as the stepchild: They don't fund it. They don't have enough staff. ... It's like the perfect storm."
The HPD did not respond to a request for an interview.
A Cry for Independence
One solution for crime labs is to operate more independently of the police department and the DA's office. Crime analysts are given evidence from a crime and usually told to look for something in particular. When the evidence or lab test results are unclear, the analysts might have incentive to find results favoring the police's case. "I think forensic labs get a little bit caught up in the heat of the battle from our adversarial process," Thompson said.
"It's like team spirit. They see the defense counsel as their enemy and tend to be kind of secretive and not want to disclose things outside of the family."
Another problem for crime labs, Munier said, is they don't have the resources or time to test every bit of evidence. "When you have 50 pieces of evidence, what do you test and what do you look for if you're not told?" She suggested giving the state some items to test and saving some for the defense. "Where you say, 'We're going to test a few items for [the state] and provide items for the defense.' It's an enormous problem and it's everywhere."
There is plenty of shared blame, but part of it stems from a misunderstanding of DNA evidence. "No lab is perfect, and part of the problem with DNA labs is there's such propaganda surrounding DNA testing," Thompson said. "People are routinely claiming that it's infallible."
He said anytime new scientific evidence is admitted into the legal system, it undergoes screening for admissibility. Proponents of the new science go overboard in advocating for it to the point that they claim it's error-free. "In fact, that was never true," Thompson said. "Like anything else, you can mislabel the samples or misinterpret the result."
Munier said there has been a large learning curve associated with the use of DNA in Houston and everywhere else. "Most of the training we got was internal, and nobody around here knew much about DNA," she said.
"We weren't trained adequately about the emerging science of DNA and neither were the defense attorneys. There were a few hired experts who helped them, but that was just here and there. And the judges were as ignorant as everybody else."
The lab now has been accredited by the American Society of Crime Laboratory Directors Laboratory Accreditation Board. The Bromwich reports touted recent progress, but how much have things improved?
"It's really not clear. It's probably too early to tell," said Stephen Saloom, policy director of the Innocence Project, a nonprofit legal clinic dedicated to exonerating the wrongfully convicted. "I would think with appropriate leadership, staffing, training and management, you could change the culture there, but the leadership will be critical, and the follow-through."
Accreditation is a step toward accountability. There is a series of on-site inspections; the proficiency testing of lab workers is reviewed; procedures are reviewed to assure the lab has a quality control system in place. "We do an extremely thorough review," said Ralph Keaton, executive director of the American Society of Crime Laboratory Directors Laboratory Accreditation Board, which accredited the HPD lab.
The lab is required to do an annual assessment and report any instances of noncompliance. Of course, accreditation doesn't mean a lab is suddenly exempt from problems. "The HPD lab is and has been accredited for a while," Keaton said. "A lot of the issues occurred prior to its accreditation, and they keep resurfacing."
Rios, the new lab director, said it takes time to change an organization's culture, but that change is under way, along with systemic changes to assure quality control.
She added that it's a constant battle to instill in employees the mission and purpose of the lab. "If you're an independent private lab, independence implies having no conflict. However, there have been issues even at private independent labs," Rios said. "There's no guarantee that a member of an independent lab won't engage in dishonest behavior."
For example, the Illinois State Police recently canceled a contract with one of the largest independent labs in the country because of the lab's poor quality.
One way to improve lab performance is to increase salaries, improve the quality of staff, supply more training and obtain better equipment. Rios said all of that has been done with the help of $3.4 million in grants.
Still More Problems
In January 2008, the HPD lab's DNA supervisor, Vanessa Nelson, resigned after an internal investigation concluded she had helped crime lab analysts pass DNA skills tests by improperly giving them test answers. Within weeks she was hired by the state crime lab as DNA chief, prompting State Rep. Kevin Bailey, D-Houston, to call the hiring "shocking."
Thompson said it was that inherent team culture that prompted Nelson to cheat. "The same kind of pressures that existed before existed again," he said. "Why would this brand-new head of the DNA unit cover up a cheating problem on proficiency tests? Because she's under the same pressure they were under before."
Of course, crime labs across the country are facing DNA backlogs, are underfunded and understaffed and are tied to law enforcement, which contributes to their ineffectiveness. All agree a more independent model would benefit the justice system.
"A key is good professional leadership," said Steve Hall, project director of the StandDown Texas Project aimed at organizing a moratorium on executions.
"An independent model definitely helps foster that. Anytime you have people essentially working where they feel like they're on the same team, you've got the potential for a culture that turns a blind eye to problems."
Thompson pointed to New York and California as states that have oversight bodies - forensic science commissions that oversee the state's labs. Thompson serves on the new California commission. "It's hard to say how that's going to go," he said of the California commission, which he said is dominated by law enforcement members.
The New York commission is aided by Innocence Project founders Barry Scheck and Peter Neufeld as commission members. That's at least a step in the right direction, but not one that will return the years Josiah Sutton and others lost in prison.
We are not going into the details of why cell tower evidence was not done qualitatively in DAVIS' case---we will state that the defense lawyer for DAVIS made clear -----the evidence used by prosecutor was NOT developed in a way that would lead to accurate data. It takes quite a bit of time and expense to do these analyses correctly ----very complex analysis---and the defense was clear the experts in a private lab stated the cell phone tower evidence did not show DAVIS at the scene ---the opposite for what prosecutor's cell tower evidence was showing in court. This evidence was critical in creating the DOUBT the prosecutors needed -----
The HOMICIDE trial did not occur until the defense had won the ROBBERY TRIAL ----there was no indication at that point DAVIS was anything other than a citizen walking down the sidewalk as this ROBBER jumped from a cab with a gun. What cell tower data showed was DAVIS was in the same wide-ranging area as both HOMICIDE AND ROBBERY. DAVIS states he was with friends living in this area and stayed over night. Whether DAVIS was out and about during the early AM of these crimes----the prosecutors tried to use cell tower data to pinpoint a location that many experts will testify is IMPOSSIBLE.
“No one who understands the relevant science would ever claim that data from a single cell tower can reliably be used to specify the location of a caller at the time a particular call is made,” he says......................
Prosecutors' use of mobile phone tracking is 'junk science,' critics say
By Mark Hansen
June 2013 The problem for both the defense lawyers and for us was this: the judge kept allowing what was less than EXPERT OR QUALITY data enter this trial------that is the duty of a court's judges to assure quality and accuracy of data allowed at trial.
Forensic Cell Tower Evidence is Accurate Only with Complete and Complex Analysis
International Investigators received a call from a defense attorney on the east coast regarding a cellular forensics report he had received from the prosecution that concluded that the forensic cellular evidence proved his client was in the area of the scene of a crime at the time the crime was committed. The prosecutor had no physical evidence placing his client at the scene, and his client had an alibi corroborated by the client’s mother.
He requested our cellphone expert review the report. Cell phone tracking using cellular tower triangulation is not as simple as it initially looks. And because it looks like a simple identification process, the conclusions can be inaccurate and erroneous.
In order to accurately go about locating cellular locations, not only does the cell phone investigation have to take into account the tower locations, but also the antenna locations and direction. Terrence P. O’Connor explains in the Small Scale Digital Device Forensics Journal what happens:
“The tower and antenna which receives the call is determined by which antenna is receiving the signal from the mobile unit the strongest provided that tower is not already overloaded with call. When a tower is in a period of very high use it may switch the incoming call to an alternate tower and antenna provided that the mobile unit is in the alternate antenna’s field and therefore being received in adequate strength.”
Simply, cell phone forensics analysts should not assume that the tower the phone connects with is the closest tower to the phone and indicates proximity of the phone. The closest tower may be overloaded with calls and pushing signals to other towers.
The cell tower location, the antenna’s direction and field, azimuth pattern, terrain and usage load at a particular time and day all have to be taken into consideration to result in accurate cellular location evidence. Each call in the cell phone records, each tower and each antenna had to be analyzed and mapped, which is what was done.
The conclusion was that the prosecutor’s report was inaccurate. Because of the expertise of the International Investigators team and the research behind the protocol, the investigator was able to testify about the process and provide accurate forensic cell tower evidence.
The accused was exonerated. The attorney was happy. His client was happy and International Investigators was happy with another case closed.
Throughout the ROBBERY trial and now this HOMICIDE trial DAVIS appears to be a citizen having stayed with friends living in that area and was walking down sidewalk moving from friend's home towards DAVIS's start of day.
The next prosecution evidence was cell phone/social media text messaging records for the night before and early morning of the HOMICIDE AND ROBBERY. There are massive complaints by citizens involved in keeping public justice strong about the admissibility of text messages----social media---et al as in today's world people share cell phones----people have multiple people coming and going from their houses----so this is where those concerns took hold as prosecutor goes step by step through DAVIS's conversations which lasted all night and through the AM of HOMICIDE AND ROBBERY. He did not stop texting, social media, cell phone use all night. Witnesses say he was inside house filled with people watching TV, drinking, and talking----prosecutors say DAVIS was outside moving around during that night placing him near HOMICIDE/ROBBERY.
DAVIS IS HEARD SAYING HE FOUND WHAT HE WAS LOOKING FOR ---HE HAD IT-----AND HE IS HEARD SAYING HE WOULD BE MAKING HIS WAY TO A GIRLFRIEND'S HOUSE THAT DAY ---DID NOT HAVE ENOUGH MONEY SO HE WOULD NEED TO HACK A RIDE.
The prosecutors attached the phrase HE GOT WHAT HE WAS LOOKING FOR----and the phrasing HACKING A RIDE and came up with finding the gun and jumping cab fare at the robbery scene. Now, this did create DOUBT---but if one heard all of last trials testimony---which this jury was not allowed to here ANY of those defense witnesses or claims-----one would reserve doubt.
IN A CITY WHERE A SUPER-MAJORITY OF PEOPLE DO NOT OWN CARS---HACKING A RIDE--SLANG GENERALLY TIED TO INDEPENDENT CAR OWNERS NOT LICENSED AS CABS-----THESE CONVERSATIONS HAPPEN ALL THE TIME. The robbery had the suspect fleeing a REGISTERED CAB.
DAVIS phone records have him saying the money he had would have him taking a hack---and indeed it is dangerous for both rider and driver.
Man robbed & shot by hack in Druid Hill Park
Shooting shows danger of unlicensed cab rides
4:56 PM, Aug 4, 2017
6:18 PM, Aug 4, 2017
Some wait for a bus, while others order up a cab or a private ride service, but in Baltimore, those looking for a value look for a hack or an unlicensed ride.
"It's cheaper than catching a cab and it gets you all across town,” said Shawnette Smith of West Baltimore. “The average fare for a cab might cost you over $20 from West to East, and for hacking, it might be like $10."
One such bargain hunter in Glen Burnie last night got more than he bargained for when the hack giving him a ride to Baltimore took a detour.
"The driver took a turn or a shortcut through Druid Hill Park and that's where this driver actually shot the victim and robbed him of $400 and a cell phone," said Lt. Nicholas Edwards.
The victim told police he scrambled to get out of the vehicle and was able to wave down another car for help that transported him to mercy medical center for treatment.
Police say it looks like he will survive a flesh wound to the upper torso, but it underscores the danger of trying to score a cheap ride.
"You get into these cars and you don't know where these individuals are taking you. They could go anywhere except for the destination that you have asked them to take you,” said Edwards. “It's not like an Uber or a Lyft or a taxicab or even sedans that are dispatched to an area. They have a number. You know the driver.You make a payment in advance. With these, you just don't know."
It's a point well taken even by those who hack, who can also refuse to jump into an unlicensed cab if they suspect something is amiss.
"You get a vibe like somebody's up to something or they may be intoxicated. I'm just not willing to take that chance," said Smith, "You can get abducted and also they might rob you."
The shooting happened just after 11p.m. Thursday in Druid Hill Park, and if you saw or heard anything, you're asked to call Metro Crime Stoppers at 1-866-7LOCKUP.
The next round of evidence at the HOMICIDE trial was what jailhouse testimony ---a fellow jailhouse inmate testifies to every single prosecutor claim that in past was negated by witnesses.
The fact that an inmate in the PROCESS OF TRIAL FOR MURDER would talk to an inmate he not only did not know----but was from out of the Baltimore area was hard to believe. The fact that this inmate used the same terminology ----chose to highlight the very details prosecution needed to negate last trials' verdict was clear---he was coached which does happen and the timing of his story coming to prosecutor's office was made suspect by defense lawyer.
The inmate testified DAVIS came to his cell on a second level -----DAVIS and this inmate where on different tiers---and DAVIS supposedly sat and talked with him as DAVIS waited to buy LIQUOR---DAVIS denies even knowing this jailhouse inmate ---never sought to buy alcohol----remember, DAVIS is fighting for his freedom in the midst of very critical trials so one would doubt he would place himself in such jeopardy----and here we see a SMOKING GUN once defense lawyer was able to investigate who this jailhouse witness was-----the timing was so concerning as DAVIS has been in jail for years now and this jailhouse inmate arrives just a few months before HOMICIDE TRIAL around the time of ROBBERY TRIAL.
How does testimony from a prosecution witness enter trial without thorough background check into that witness--especially one whose movements can be placed very easily.
So now it appears that the inmate was not even in a facility DAVIS could access.
“The court just did not provide the defense with sufficient time to investigate this guy, and the state purposefully downplayed how bad he was,” said defense attorney Latoya Francis-Williams'.
One thing that was GLARING----somehow the prosecution was able to deny defense the ability to use ANY of robbery trial information---any of that trial's witnesses -----so basically defense had no DEFENSE----there was no defense beyond that lawyer questioning prosecution's witnesses----and this was a HOMICIDE vs that ROBBERY trial.......the inmate was indeed totally lacking credibility
“He's not credible on his face,” Francis-Williams said. “But to know how bad he really is, and the state really downplayed it, it’s reprehensible.”
Man convicted of murder questions 11th-hour jailhouse witness
Justin FentonContact ReporterThe Baltimore Sun
The attorney for Keith Davis Jr. plans to appeal his conviction last week for second degree murder in the shooting death of a Pimlico Race Course security guard, raising questions about the reliability of what she called an 11th hour witness against her client.
“The court just did not provide the defense with sufficient time to investigate this guy, and the state purposefully downplayed how bad he was,” said defense attorney Latoya Francis-Williams.
The witness was a jailhouse informant who claimed the defendant had bragged about the murder to him in a letter to authorities just weeks before the re-trial of Davis. An earlier trial ended in a hung jury.
David Gutierrez, a federal inmate from Texas who was recently moved to a Maryland prison, said Davis told him how he killed Kevin Jones. Gutierrez wanted to trade the information for time off his sentence.
Gutierrez, 40, was convicted in a Dallas federal court in 2008 for being part of the “Texas Syndicate” gang and helping carry out a murder, and was sentenced to 25 years.
“He's not credible on his face,” Francis-Williams said. “But to know how bad he really is, and the state really downplayed it, it’s reprehensible.”
In response, Melba Saunders, a spokeswoman for the Baltimore State’s Attorney’s Office said: “The witness information was properly disclosed ahead of trial and we sought and obtained justice for Kevin Jones and his family all within the confines of the law.”
Gutierrez testified that he had been in the state prisons system for about 10 months. He was part of a program Maryland participates in to swap inmates “for the purposes of safety and security,” said Gerard Shields, a spokesman for the Department of Public Safety & Correctional Services.
There currently are only 15 federal inmates being held in the state prison system, Shields said. On Tuesday, Shields said Gutierrez is no longer being held in Maryland.
Before the new witness emerged, the case against Davis hinged on cell phone location records and firearms analysis. There were no eyewitnesses to the killing, and no known connection between the Davis and Jones, though phone records showed him in the general area.
About four hours after Jones’ shooting, police chased Davis, whom they suspected of robbing a cab driver, into a Northwest Baltimore garage, where he was shot multiple times. Police recovered a gun with Davis’ palm print on the handle that was traced later to Jones’ shooting.
Davis has maintained his innocence and said he was shot by police after being mistaken for the robbery suspect. His attorney has suggested the gun police found was placed against his palm after he was handcuffed.
The State's Attorney's Office disclosed Gutierrez to Francis-Williams about a week before trial, but withheld his identity. Just two business days before he testified, Francis-Williams learned his name but was not allowed to tell her client until the morning Gutierrez took the stand.
“I was literally preparing my cross [examination] during his direct examination,” she said.
Gutierrez’s account gave prosecutors several elements missing from Davis’ first trial: an alleged confession as well as a motive, with Gutierrez alleging Davis said the killing was the result of a “neighborhood beef.”
Gutierrez told jurors that he met Davis through his then-cell mate in Jessup, who sold homemade alcohol. Davis allegedly told Gutierrez that he “aired out” Jones and then fled in a cab, telling the hack driver to “drive, drive, drive!”
While jurors deadlocked in Davis' first trial, they took about two hours to find Davis guilty at the second.
Assistant State's Attorney Andrea Mason told jurors in closing arguments that Gutierrez possessed a detail that only someone with knowledge of the case would know: that a woman ran out of the garage where Davis took refuge while running from police. That detail appeared in The Baltimore Sun in an article from the first trial.
He testified that he never saw media coverage of the case.
Gutierrez’s testimony also helped prosecutors address another inconsistency from Davis’ previous trial. A police officer who chased Davis said the man he pursued had dreadlocks or braids; Davis had close-cropped hair, and his supporters said the mistake bolstered the idea that police pursued the wrong person.
But Gutierrez testified that Davis told him that he was wearing a du-rag at the time, which is why he appeared to have longer hair. It was the first time anyone has mentioned a du-rag.
Gutierrez described himself as reformed and eager to see his family.
“I made some choices in my life, and I’ve had a paradigm shift,” he said on the stand. “Prison is not a place for me.”
Francis-Williams pressed Gutierrez about his account.
“It’s your testimony that random people approach you and talk about criminal activity?” Francis-Williams asked.
“Everybody does that” in prison, Gutierrez said.
“Did you testify in their cases?”
“I never thought about it like that,” he said.
Here we see this HOMICIDE trial is a second trial with the jury deadlocked ----no doubt the family of murdered security guard wants justice------all families in Baltimore tied to what is too much crime and violence want that justice.
The only evidence having any strength in this second trial was the inmate testimony----and the complete absence of any defense witnesses from robbery trial. The police officers were never presented as having questionable actions-----I shot two bullets into garage was the only reference ---minus any 40 bullets---minus any eye-witness testimony saying it was not DAVIS.
Below we see again for this HOMICIDE trial----the description does not match DAVIS ----
'An eyewitness who worked at Pimlico could not pick Davis out of a photo lineup and described the shooter as someone in their late 30s or early 40s. Police also said CCTV cameras in the area didn't pick up any evidence of note'.
The prosecution's case went on for 4-5 days----the defense case lasted an hour with two new witnesses including that AMBULANCE DRIVER stating DAVIS was found in the center of the garage while police placed him against a wall behind a refrigerator. Supposedly DAVIS placed both the gun and his wallet on refrigerator before collapsing in the middle of garage.
What this article states is true----the amount of money spent in trials in cases where police actions are so corrupted is missing an opportunity to spend that money in trials which will fight police corruption in Baltimore on all angles----corrupted police---corrupted political machines for whom many of these police work---corrupted MEDICAL EXAMINER'S AND CORONER'S offices---corrupted and underfunded forensic labs----
IS THE ANSWER TO HAND ALL THESE CHECKS AND BALANCE AGENCIES TO BLACKWATER POLICE CRIME LABS TIED TO THOSE GLOBAL CORPORATE MERCENARY POLICE FORCES? THAT WILL INDEED BE A POLICE STATE.
Jurors deadlocked in Keith Davis Jr. trial, mistrial declared
Justin FentonContact ReporterThe Baltimore Sun
A mistrial was declared Tuesday afternoon in the murder trial of Keith Davis Jr. for the fatal shooting of a Pimlico Race Course security guard in 2015, after jurors failed to reach a verdict.
Jurors deliberated for about two days before telling Chief Judge Alfred Nance that they were hopelessly deadlocked. The charges against Davis remain pending and a new trial date was to be scheduled.
Davis, 25, was shot by police in June 2015, after police pursued him as a robbery suspect into a Northwest Baltimore garage. Davis was charged with attempted robbery and handgun violations, and convicted by a jury of one count of handgun possession.
A week after his conviction, police charged Davis in the killing of Pimlico security guard Kevin Jones, a 22-year-old who was gunned down outside the track on his way to work five hours before Davis was shot by police.
Prosecutors say Davis' fingerprints were found on a gun recovered from the garage where he was shot, and the gun was linked to Jones' killing.
"Today's decision will not stop us in our vigorous pursuit of justice on behalf of Kevin Jones and his loved ones," Melba Saunders, director of communications for Baltimore's State's Attorney, said Tuesday after the mistrial was declared.
The case has taken on increased prominence with the activist group Baltimore Bloc asserting Davis' innocence, and as the owners of Pimlico send messages about moving the Preakness Stakes out of Baltimore due to crime and blight around the race track.
Davis took the stand during the trial, claiming police planted a gun on him because they wrongly shot him. He said he was never involved in a robbery, pointing to testimony at his first trial from the victim, who could not identify Davis as man who tried to hold him up at gunpoint.
Prosecutors said Davis' accusation strains credibility, and that he was caught with an empty gun after firing all of its bullets into Jones. His cell phone also hit off towers in the area near Pimlico around the time of the killing, they say.
An eyewitness who worked at Pimlico could not pick Davis out of a photo lineup and described the shooter as someone in their late 30s or early 40s. Police also said CCTV cameras in the area didn't pick up any evidence of note.
Davis also presented an alibi witness who testified that Davis was at her home with her and her then-boyfriend at the time the murder occurred.
Outside the courthouse, Davis' fiancee Kelly Holsey went on Facebook Live to express her frustration over the case but also her resolve to fight to get Davis freed.
"It is now our turn to put the pressure on to let the state's attorney know it would be wasted time and taxpayer dollars to continue to hold him on something he did not do," she said.
We end by stressing----our US city councils DO have the power to hold police accountable---to force an opening in oversight and accountability for reforms to end corruption WITHOUT ending the collective bargaining process. It should have happened these few decades ago----every time a BONE is thrown by global Wall Street 5% pols and players PRETENDING to care about police corruptions they always point the finger at someone else---now all this is Trump's fault even as the worst of policies came from Obama and Clinton neo-liberals and our Baltimore Maryland Assembly and Baltimore City Council pols. These global Wall Street Baltimore Development 'labor and justice' organizations filled with that dastardly 5% black, white, and brown citizens are killing REAL reform and REAL justice ----because they are FAR-RIGHT WING GLOBAL 1% EXTREME WEALTH EXTREME POVERTY PLAYERS.
WE MUST HAVE OUR 99% OF WE THE PEOPLE---BLACK, WHITE, AND BROWN CITIZENS COMING TOGETHER AGAINST THE GLOBAL 1% BY GETTING RID OF ALL GLOBAL WALL STREET 5% POLS AND PLAYERS NOW.
If a group is telling you to shake your fist at Trump while all that is MOVING FORWARD has been in our US cities deemed Foreign Economic Zones these few decades---we KNOW they are ALT RIGHT ALT LEFT 5% POLS AND PLAYERS----we don't want FARM TEAM PLAYERS continuing all these games.
The city council could help end BPD's collective bargaining woes
Oct 18, 2017 Baltimore Sun.
The Sun’s editorial was correct that the shift schedules of the Baltimore Police Department (BPD) should not be subject to collective bargaining (“Baltimore police patrol schedule puts the public — and officers — at risk,” Oct. 16). The editorial, however, was not correct in asserting that removing shift schedules from the scope of collective bargaining with the FOP is the responsibility of the Maryland General Assembly.
Excluding the negotiation of shift schedules and other aspects of deployment and scheduling from the scope of collective bargaining is the prerogative of the Baltimore City Council. It is a responsibility that the council has ducked for years.
State law does govern binding arbitration if the city and the FOP fail to reach agreement on the terms and conditions of employment, but that state law is limited to matters involving “direct compensation.” Issues relating to “deployment or scheduling, including eligibility and assignment to details and positions” of police officers are expressly excluded by state law from the definition of “direct compensation.”
Under Section 16-8A(a) of the Code of Public Local Laws for Baltimore enacted by the General Assembly, the scope of collective bargaining between the city and the FOP over issues not involving direct compensation is subject to the Municipal Employee Relations Law enacted by the City Council. The City Council draws its power to regulate the scope of collective bargaining from Section 55 of the City Charter.
The City Council could remove shift schedules from collective bargaining with a simple amendment to Article 12, Section 3-2 of the City Code. It has not done so because of its chronic fear of antagonizing the FOP. In the meantime, money is wasted, shifts are understaffed, and public safety is compromised.
The City Council likes to lament its limited influence over the BPD when it suits its purpose and to point the finger of blame at the state. The council exploits public confusion about its role vis-à-vis the BPD. Let’s not be confused, however, about the council’s responsibility to fix the costly and dangerous problem created by taking away the control of scheduling and deployment of officers from the Police Commissioner.
David A. Plymyer