Firefighter back on duty while awaiting criminal trial

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Local,DC,Crime,Liz Farmer

A lieutenant in the D.C. Fire and EMS Department placed on leave pending her criminal trial was back on the job last week, even though her court date is months away, The Washington Examiner has learned.

Lt. Kellene Morgan Davis, 49, was charged in April with breaking into a Prince George's County barn and stealing 20 bales of hay. Her trial is scheduled for Oct. 12 in county district court.

Davis was initially charged with second-degree burglary, theft and destruction of property. But the burglary charge was reduced to a fourth-degree misdemeanor in July, court records show. The misdemeanor charge is typically applied to cases where there is breaking and entering without specific intent to commit an additional crime, according to Maryland law.

The reduction lowered Davis' potential maximum sentence from 15 years in prison if convicted of the burglary to three years maximum. She also faces 18 months for the theft and 60 days for the destruction of property.

Davis is accused of using a truck and chain to yank the barn doors off their hinges and making off with bales of hay totaling about $106 in value. The veteran firefighter previously had kept a horse on the property, but was evicted in 2010, police said.

Davis admitted to being at the property and taking five bales of hay, according to charging documents.

Fire Department spokesman Lon Walls said in April that Davis, who works in Brentwood, was placed on enforced leave while the department investigated and the case made its way through the courts.

When asked about her return to work before the trial, Walls said last week that Davis was back on full-time duty but could give no further details. Davis could not be reached for comment and her attorney did not return requests for comment.

Lt. Sean Brooks, a firefighter based at the Franklin Square firehouse, said he has heard of other firefighters returning to work after being charged with a misdemeanor -- but not when it involved a theft charge.

"One of the things about our job is the public puts a high degree of trust with us," Brooks said. "We enter homes on a regular basis and we have access to valuables."

Steve Reid, a former fire chief in Iowa who now lives in Maryland, said he once fired someone for stealing $72.

"If I were the fire chief, I'd have probably waited until the legal system had run its course," he said.

lfarmer@washingtonexaminer.com

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