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Judge: Mosby must appear at contempt hearing in Keith Davis Jr. case

Baltimore State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby. (Jerry Jackson/The Baltimore Sun via AP)

Baltimore’s top prosecutor must appear in court to explain why she should not be held in contempt for discussing a high-profile murder case after a gag order was issued, a city judge ruled.

The decision puts an unusual spotlight on State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby in a murder case that she has pursued for years. The defendant, Keith Davis Jr., is set to face his fifth trial next year in a 2015 shooting in which he has maintained his innocence.

Davis’ lawyers accused Mosby last week of violating the gag order when she mentioned the case during a radio interview during a June 7 appearance on WYPR. The defense’s motion also asked Judge John Nugent to throw out the charges against Davis as a sanction for the violation.

On Tuesday, Nugent ruled that Mosby must respond to the allegations in writing by Aug. 5 and appear in court on Aug. 12.

The gag order blocks lawyers, paralegals and support staff from making comments about Davis’ case “intended to influence public opinion.” The case has attracted widespread attention, in part through the efforts of activists and Davis’ wife, Kelly Davis, who have fought to have the charges dropped.

Davis is set to face trial for a fifth time in the fatal shooting of Pimlico Race Course security guard Kevin Jones. Two of his earlier trials ended in hung juries, and two others ended in convictions but were later overturned. Davis was also tried and acquitted of an alleged robbery on the same day Jones was killed, June 7, 2015.

Nugent granted prosecutors’ request for a gag order — though he declined to include Davis’ wife and activist DeRay Mckesson, who is involved in the effort to bring public attention to the case — in the late morning of June 7. Mosby was included under the order.

Shortly after the ruling, Mosby appeared on WYPR’s “Midday” show and responded to a question about the Davis case from host Tom Hall. Mosby acknowledged that a gag order was in place.

Mosby did not discuss the case in detail, but made comments about how she would go to trial four or five times as part of her effort to get justice for crime victims. She also referenced the outcomes of Davis’ past trials.