Man Given Life Sentences in Murder of Baltimore Police Officer, Another Man

June 4, 2024
Elliot Knox is the second person sentenced for the killings of Baltimore Police Officer Keona Holley and another man in what a prosecutor described as "two executions, 90 minutes apart."

A man was sentenced Tuesday to consecutive life sentences for the 2021 fatal shootings of Baltimore Police Officer Keona Holley and another man who was shot dead less than two hours later.

Elliot Knox, 34, is the second person sentenced for the killings of Holley and Justin Johnson, which a prosecutor once described as “two executions, 90 minutes apart, [in] two different neighborhoods.”

Baltimore prosecutors long ago gave notice of their intent to seek the penalty of life in prison without the possibility of parole for Knox, who was convicted in March.

Circuit Judge Jennifer B Schiffer ordered the consecutive life sentences, meaning one served after the other, without the possibility of parole.

After four days of trial and about two days of deliberation, a jury found Knox guilty in March of eight of nine counts charged in the Dec. 16, 2021, shootings, including two counts each of first-degree murder and conspiracy to commit murder.

Travon Shaw, 35, is serving life in prison for both killings. He pleaded guilty to murder in Holley’s death in late March, months after a jury convicted him of murder, conspiracy to commit murder and firearms offenses in Johnson’s killing. Online court records show Shaw appealed his conviction in the fatal shooting of Johnson.

Holley was sitting in her patrol car during an overtime shift in Baltimore’s Curtis Bay neighborhood when she was ambushed and gunned down around 1:30 a.m. After she was shot, her cruiser rolled across Pennington Avenue, through a fence, down an embankment and into a park, where it came to rest. Bullets had hit Holley in the head twice, damaging her brain and spine.

The 39-year-old mother of four died in the hospital about a week later. Family, friends and colleagues remembered Holley joining the police force to support her community.

Around 3 a.m. the morning Holley was shot, a pair of gunmen opened fire on Johnson, who was sitting in his 1997 Lincoln Town Car in the city’s Yale Heights neighborhood. Six bullets tore into his back, damaging his spine, lungs and heart. He died at the scene.

The first clue for detectives investigating the shooting of a fellow officer came by way of a license plate reader in the Curtis Bay area picking up the tag of a silver Hyundai registered to Knox. Security footage showed the car park around the block from where Holley was shot. Two men could be seen getting out, going in Holley’s direction and running back to the car moments later.

Police stopped Knox’s car and detained him within hours of the shootings. In a small interview room in the homicide unit at Baltimore police headquarters, Knox misled detectives for hours before confessing his presence at both shootings.

Knox directed detectives to a house where he stored guns in backpacks hidden in a bedroom closet. Investigators recovered a Glock 22 handgun and an AR-style pistol where Knox said they would be. The pistol had a homemade “brass catcher” to collect casings as the gun fired. There also were gloves, masks and extra magazines in the bags.

A police firearms examiner testified the .40 caliber casings police recovered from both scenes were “consistent” with having been fired by the Glock 22, while the .223 caliber casing recovered from Johnson’s killing was “consistent” with having been fired by the AR-style pistol.

Knox and Shaw matched a profile of genetic material collected from the AR-style pistol, a police DNA analyst also testified. The analyst could not identify anyone’s DNA from the handgun.

Throughout Knox’s trial, Assistant State’s Attorney Kurt Bjorklund maintained that both Knox and Shaw opened fire on Johnson, pointing to the different caliber of casings found at the scene. Bjorklund insisted Knox was the one who shot Holley, highlighting video showing Knox being the closest to Holley before the shooting and being behind Shaw as they ran away.

Jurors acquitted Knox of the charge of using a firearm in connection with Holley’s murder.


©2024 Baltimore Sun.


Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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