All of them later picked out his photo from a display of possible suspects shown to them by homicide detectives.
Neighbors would later testify that they saw Davis running away down the 3200 block of Gulfport Drive with his cousin - and Quortez Jackson crumpled on the sidewalk outside his mother's front door.
"I witnessed Exxon ... talking with the victim when I looked out of my window," one of the neighbors later wrote in a formal statement to police. "I proceeded to go down my steps and heard three or four gunshots. When I ran to the door, I saw Exxon ... running from the scene. Exxon had a gun in his right hand."
Less than a minute later, at 5:55 p.m., the Baltimore police 911 switchboard lighted up.
"There's a man shot in the head out here!" the first of many callers said. "He's ... he's still alive, but he's shot!"
Two minutes later, Officer Freda Sheppard steered her police sport utility vehicle onto Gulfport Drive. Nothing in her three years on the force had prepared her for this, she would later testify.
Off to her right, a man was running around with a shotgun, yelling for help. Frightened children were standing at gawking attention in their yards. A circle of weeping mothers was hunched over a body on the sidewalk in front of a bullet-pocked townhouse.
And Barbara Jackson's birthday guests were beginning to arrive.
Christine Bethea, Jackson's godmother, stepped from her car into a riot of grief.
"I could see a shoe sticking out from under a sheet, and a lot of blood," she remembers. "Everywhere, there was blood. Then, I saw the hand sticking out, and that's when it hit me: `Oh, my God, it's Quortez! Oh, my God! No!'"
Moments earlier, the dead boy's mother had come home, a birthday cake in her hands.
"What's going on?!" Barbara Jackson asked.
"Everybody in the whole court was out there," Jackson recalls now, "crying, screaming, saying: `Why? Why? He never hurt nobody! He couldn't hurt nobody!'"
"Who?" she asked, as a circle of women closed around her and led her inside a neighbor's house.
"Oh, Miss Barbara," one of them sobbed. "It's Quortez. ... He's dead."
Seven days later, a tip led police to a hotel in Daytona Beach, Fla., where Davis and his cousin Gregory Jackson were arrested.
Charged as an accomplice, Jackson identified Davis as the killer, according to a transcript of his interview with Baltimore homicide detectives Aug. 22, 2000.
"He said he had to do what he had to do," Jackson, 19, told detectives, because "the boy kept disrespecting him. Everything he was saying out of his mouth was disrespectful. I told him he could have whipped the boy's ass or something ... but shooting him?"
Lacking any proof that Jackson actively participated in the murder, prosecutors dropped charges and withdrew his statement when he refused to testify against his cousin in court.
Still, anyone reviewing the court file on the eve of Kenneth Davis' trial eight months later would have been hard pressed to predict anything other than a swift conviction and a lengthy prison sentence for the murder on Gulfport Drive.
For there, in grim detail, were signed statements from four independent eyewitnesses - all identifying him as the killer.
But when officers of the Baltimore Police Department took the witness stand in April 2001, the neat threads tying the man known as "Exxon" to the crime started to come unraveled.
The first officer to arrive that evening, Freda Sheppard, testified that she found a neighborhood in bedlam.
It was 5:57 p.m., according to police radio logs.
"I seen numerous people," she testified, her voice quavering. "Most people were standing near the body. There was people trying to render aid to the victim. ... There was so much going on."
Just 25 years old and little more than a rookie on the police force, Sheppard said she ran through a mental checklist, trying to recall the proper procedure for securing a major crime scene. She put out radio calls for paramedics, evidence technicians and homicide detectives. She beseeched neighbors to get away from the body.
Paramedics arrived within minutes and draped a sheet over the young man with the malformed hands.
It was 6:05 p.m.
Soon, another junior officer arrived to assist Sheppard as she struggled to keep control of the outraged crowd. He, too, had less than four years' experience - and he quickly became preoccupied disarming the neighbor with the shotgun and satisfying himself that the man was not involved in the crime.
It was 6:15 p.m.
Both officers testified that they had little time to talk to anyone. Neither of them canvassed the neighborhood for suspects or wrote down the names of any of the dozens of people swirling around them, much less detained anyone - all standard procedure for first-responding officers at a major crime scene.
It was 6:25 p.m.
A half-hour had gone by and homicide investigators had yet to arrive as bystanders came and went from the crime scene.
In court, defense attorney Bivens capitalized on the breakdown in command.