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Charges dropped in St. Petersburg shooting that killed 19-year-old

If the case went to trial, prosecutors don’t believe they could refute a claim of self-defense.
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Check tampabay.com the latest news and updates. [ Photo illustration by ASHLEY DYE and DIRK SHADD | Times ]
Published May 13
Updated May 17

ST. PETERSBURG — Prosecutors will not pursue murder charges against two men arrested in the fatal shooting of a 19-year-old in March.

Pinellas-Pasco Executive Assistant State Attorney Kendall Davidson said if the cases went to trial, his office doesn’t believe it could refute a claim of self-defense by Ajay Alvarez, 19, who had been charged with second-degree murder in the March 30 killing of D’Quaz Davis.

In their initial account of the shooting, St. Petersburg police said Alvarez sat in a car outside a home on Fargo Street S, then rolled down a window and opened fire on Davis as he approached.

But Davidson said Davis may have been armed: A “credible witness” told investigators that, before officers arrived, they saw someone approach the crime scene in a car, pick up a gun from the ground next to Davis’ body, then drive off.

Related: Man arrested in domestic homicide in St. Petersburg

It’s not clear whether Davis pulled the gun or threatened Alvarez with it before Alvarez shot him, and Davidson said police haven’t located the gun the witness said they saw being taken from the scene.

Still, Davidson said, the muddiness — combined with social media posts in which Alvarez and Davis had traded threats, and inconsistent witness statements — would have impeded prosecutors in a trial.

“Unfortunately, it’s hard to get a lot of good evidence on some of these crimes,” Davidson said.

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The Pinellas-Pasco State Attorney’s Office also dropped charges of second-degree murder and aggravated assault against Paul Reaves, 21, who police placed at the crime scene.

Davidson said Reaves was arrested based on the statements of witnesses who later changed their stories, and that prosecutors had no evidence he went to the scene with the intent to harm Davis or Alvarez.

Prosecutors filed notice that they were dropping the charges on May 7. But Reaves still faces a charge of illegally possessing a firearm — prohibited due to his juvenile criminal record, according to an arrest report. He remains in the Pinellas County jail, where he is being held in lieu of $10,000 bond.

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Alvarez faces no other charges and was released from jail on Monday, records show. He could not be reached for comment on Thursday. A phone number listed for him in court records was no longer in service.

Davis’s mother, Tiffany Webster, said Thursday that she doesn’t wish to comment at this time.