A key witness in the trial of Maurice Blevins, who is charged with first-degree murder in the January shooting death of 3-year-old James Smith III in a West Baltimore barbershop, testified yesterday that gunfire erupted after Blevins came in wielding a gun.
But earlier yesterday, during opening statements, Blevins' attorney said the true killer was the witness, Kenya Davis, 21, whom Blevins allegedly wounded.
"Mr. Blevins did not murder James Smith," said Stanley H. Needleman, Blevins' attorney. "That's a given. Kenya Davis is responsible for everything that occurred in that barbershop."
Charging documents state that Blevins, 20, of the 1100 block of W. Lexington St. came into the Fresh Cuttz barbershop on South Carrollton Avenue on Jan. 2 and pointed his gun at Davis, starting a gunfight between them that killed young Smith.
The boy had turned 3 years old that day and was waiting for a birthday haircut. The boy's mother, Cheryl Whittington, and Davis were injured in the shootings.
The boy's slaying caused outrage in the community. Dozens of plush animals, flowers and balloons were left at the scene of the killing as a memorial to the boy. City dignitaries, including Mayor Kurt L. Schmoke, have visited his family. Arbutus Memorial Park Inc. offered the family a free cemetery plot.
"I wish I could say to you that this was just an ordinary, run-of-the-mill city shooting," said Bill Giuffre, the assistant state's attorney for the case. "But it's more wasteful than that; it's more tragic than that."
In addition to first-degree murder, Blevins is charged with handgun violations and two counts of attempted murder in connection with the shootings of Whittington and Davis.
Giuffre said he would not seek the death penalty for Blevins.
Davis was initially charged with attempted murder, reckless endangerment and handgun violations in connection with the shootings, but the more serious charges were dropped, and he pleaded guilty to possession of a handgun.
His sentencing is scheduled for Monday.
Noting that Giuffre is the prosecutor in both cases, Needleman implied that Davis "traded his testimony" for a lighter sentence. But Davis said he had not been promised anything.
During his testimony, Davis, who at the time of the shootout was on probation for drug possession, said he had bought a loaded gun on the street that day and was carrying it with him because he feared for his life. Blevins thought Davis had broken into his car and had threatened him the previous day, Davis said.
"He had told me that I had 24 hours to live," Davis testified.
Davis said he was waiting for a haircut and was sitting next to Whittington and Smith when Blevins entered.
"He pushed the door open, and he was shooting," Davis testified.
Davis said he was hit by a bullet that went through his biceps. He then ran, shooting himself in the leg as he tried to get his gun out of his pants, he said.
Needleman said in his opening statement that Davis had not been threatened but instead had wanted to kill Blevins and was waiting for him in the barbershop.
During cross-examination, Needleman asked why, if Davis feared for his life, he did not call the police or tell his relatives. He also asked why Davis hadn't warned friends who went into the barbershop with him that they could be in danger.
"I thought it was none of their business," Davis said.
Pub Date: 8/06/97