Keith Davis Murder Trial Delayed

There's a delay in the trial of a man charged with killing a utility worker in Clarke County, Miss.

The trial for Keith Allen Davis, 37, was set to start Wednesday in Quitman. He is charged with murder in the death of 47-year-old Nathan Baker.
Prosecutors say Baker was killed at the residence and his body was dumped in Wayne County.

But Davis' attorney Josh Traxler is seeking a change of venue on the grounds of substantial pretrial publicity and concerns about possible racial prejudice.

Baker, who was white, worked for East Mississippi Electric Power Association. He was killed in June 2012 when he went to Davis' house to turn off the power for non-payment. Davis is black.

District Attorney Bilbo Mitchell called for the trial to take place in Clarke County. He recommended that the trial only be moved if, during jury selection, the judge feels it's warranted.

Mitchell stressed that he favors increasing the number of people summonsed for the jury pool. He even recommended using the largest courtroom in the Clarke County Courthouse for the proceedings. The newly renovated courtroom can hold up to 190 people.

The case has garnered some attention on the state level. In response to it, earlier this legislative session, Rep. William Shirley, who represents Clarke, Lauderdale, Jasper and Newton counties sponsored a bill that would make killing a utility worker on the job a capital offense. The measure passed in the House but died just this week in a Senate committee.

However, Mar. 7 the issue was attached to Senate Bill 2377 and passed the House 116-1. The bill now goes back to the Senate for consideration of the House changes.

Court officials say Circuit Judge Robert Bailey is expected to issue a ruling on the change of venue request within the next two days.

Davis was silent as he walked into Clarke County Circuit Court Wednesday morning.

His wife, 33-year-old Jo Ann Davis, was charged with accessory after the fact. This Friday she will find out if she was indicted by the most recent Clarke County grand jury. The couple's 14-year-old son was charged with helping to dispose of Baker's body. His case was assigned to youth court.