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  • Writer's pictureScott Shellenberger

Jury convicts Kenneth Davis of first-degree murder in shooting of witness Tracey Carrington

Cassidy Jensen | The Baltimore Sun | April 15, 2024 | Original Source

A Baltimore County jury found Kenneth Davis Jr. guilty of first-degree murder Monday afternoon in the 2018 shooting of state’s witness Tracey Carrington following a four-day trial.

Davis, 33, was accused of shooting Carrington, a former Morgan State University basketball star, a dozen times as she was leaving a bar with a friend on Sept. 6, 2018. Jurors, who began deliberating Friday afternoon, also found Davis guilty of using a firearm in a violent crime, possessing a firearm with a felony conviction and witness intimidation.

“Our family is happy, but it’s bittersweet. Bitter because this wasn’t supposed to happen to Tracey and sweet because we got justice,” said Anastasia Gilliam, Carrington’s sister.

Gilliam, who lives in North Carolina, did not attend the trial but heard about the verdict from family members like Carrington’s cousin Sophia Blue.

“The guilty verdict won’t bring Tracey back, but justice has been served,” Blue said Monday.

The moment also was bittersweet because Carrington’s mother died before she could see someone convicted for her daughter’s killing, Gilliam said.

“She asked us to keep fighting for Tracey,” Gilliam said.

Carrington was expected to testify in the murder trial of Norwood and Nyghee Johnson when she was shot. The Johnson brothers were convicted of second-degree murder and each received 40 year sentences in killings tied to a marijuana transaction that turned violent.

Davis, who also sold marijuana, was friends of the Johnson brothers and attended each day of the 2 1/2-week trial in 2020. He denied any involvement with Carrington’s murder. He is currently serving a prison sentence in an unrelated case after pleading guilty to a first-degree assault and illegal possession of a regulated firearm.

His sentencing in the Carrington case is scheduled for May 30.

Police began investigating Davis in 2022, when his childhood friend Darrell Mason told officers that Davis had buried two guns in Mason’s backyard on the night Carrington was killed. Mason agreed to talk with Davis inside a wired jail cell in the Baltimore County courthouse in exchange for consideration in a county firearm case.

Their recorded conversation, which continued for more than an hour, formed a substantial part of the state’s case against Davis.

In a closing argument Friday, Assistant State’s Attorney Lauren Stone played clips of that jail cell conversation where she said Davis admitted to carrying out Carrington’s murder.

At the beginning of the recording, Davis asked Mason about the location of two “joints,” or guns.

While Davis told jurors he was referring to two guns Mason had stolen from his truck in 2017, Mason testified that they were discussing weapons used in the murder that he watched Davis bury and that another friend later removed.

“Did you get caught for that?” Mason asked Davis in the cell recording.

“You never know when that shit will come up,” Davis said, then mentioned “cold cases” and brought up the Johnson brothers’ sentence.

Both men mention “that night” and the “backyard.” Toward the end of their conversation, Davis apologized to Mason, seemingly for involving him in covering up evidence of the murder.

“My life is on the line,” Davis said multiple times in the recording.

Davis and his attorney Janice Bledsoe said that was a reference to guns Mason had stolen that Davis feared might come back linked to an unrelated case or get him in trouble with the gun’s owners. Bledsoe declined to comment on the verdict.

A gun linked to Carrington’s shooting was recovered months after the murder in a Baltimore City “trap house,” prosecutors and defense attorneys said, but that gun did not have any evidence connecting it to Davis.

Bledsoe told jurors Friday that they should consider how context changed the meaning of facts of the case, including the recorded jail cell conversation. “Context changes everything,” she wrote on a slide displayed to jurors.

She called Mason a “con man” and said he had received a “very big benefit” from the state in his Baltimore County court case. In Mason’s case, the state did not oppose probation before judgment, which is not recorded as a conviction.

Bledsoe also said that Mason had changed details of his story, like whether he had been home when the guns were retrieved, and some of his claims were inconsistent with evidence such as call records.

Prosecutors on Friday replayed a clip from Davis’ interview with a Baltimore County police detective after he waived his Miranda rights. When Detective Joshua Battaglia told Davis he was under arrest for the murder of Carrington, the witness in the Johnson brothers’ case, Davis replied, “understandable.”

“It’s just understandable… nothing else?” Battaglia asked.

“What else can I say? They were my homeboys. I was with them every step of the way,” Davis said in the police interview.


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