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Keon Gray found guilty of second degree murder in death of Taylor Hayes

Posted at 5:21 PM, Aug 14, 2019
and last updated 2019-08-15 10:38:21-04

BALTIMORE — Keon Gray has been found guilty of second degree murder in the death of 7-year-old Taylor Hayes.

Jury deliberation continued Wednesday in the murder trial of Keon Gray, the man accused of killing 7-year-old Taylor Hayes last July in Southwest Baltimore.

After exhaustive closing arguments from both the prosecution and defense recapped much of the evidence and projected storylines of the crime Monday, jurors pressed on in their attempt to reach a verdict in the highly emotional case that gripped much of the city in the summer of 2018.

Gray was found guilty on 7 of 19 counts.

Jurors submitted two questions to Judge Althea Handy shortly before noon Wednesday. In one they asked for the video or transcripts of six witnesses from the trial. When the jurors appeared in front of the judge, they clarified they wanted copies of the police interviews, not trial interviews, at which point Handy said jurors have received all information they were going to get already at trial. Jurors then reconsidered and asked just for the testimony of Mark Edison, a man who had been riding in the car at the time Hayes was shot.

Hayes was killed while riding in the back seat of a car traveling through the Edmondson Village neighborhood. The prosecution argued Gray got into a roadside argument with Darnell Holmes, the woman driving the car in which Hayes was riding. After the heated exchange, prosecutors said Gray parked his car and shot at Holmes’ car as it drove down Lyndhurst Street. One 40-caliber round entered the car’s trunk and struck Hayes in the back. She passed away at a hospital a few days later.

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Gray’s attorney, Ken Ravenell, attempted to poke holes in much of the State’s narrative, pointing at discrepancies between the initial statements given by Holmes and Edison. Edison and Holmes originally said Edison was not in the car at the time of the shooting, but they later revealed he was present during the incident, allegedly admitting to returning fire at Gray’s car, though he did not strike the vehicle, a white Mercedes.

Other witnesses recalled seeing the roadside argument, but they seemed to debate if the car police focused on was the same as the one they recalled seeing the day of the shooting or if the man they say arguing did match Gray’s description, a contention Ravenell attempted to seize.

Ravenell questioned why Edison would change his story from his first interaction with police to what he later recounted at trial. Prosecutors said Edison was worried about the snitching culture in Baltimore, fearing he would be the victim of reprisal if he talked.

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They also said Edison later admitted to having the gun illegally and being involved in the drug trade, two additional factors that would make him reticent to talk to police. They also said they appreciated witnesses coming forward in the case, but that one of those witnesses may have gone too far, feeling as if she could solve the case and thus adamantly pressing towards details she felt were certain despite investigator’s doubts.

State Attorney Marilyn Mosby reacted to the guilty verdict being brought down.

“This reckless and irresponsible crime committed by the defendant took the life of a precious and innocent child. We are grateful to receive justice for seven-year-old Taylor Hayes and I applaud the work of prosecutors, Charles Blomquist and Matt Pillion, as well as our partners at BPD for their commitment to justice. The defendant faces 165 years in jail and should no longer have the freedom to recklessly take the life of anyone else. We will continue to offer support and prayers for the family of Taylor Hayes and the other victims in this case as they begin the process of healing from today’s guilty verdict.”