D.C. Witness Report: Homicide Defendants and Pretrial Release

Judges didn’t release as many homicide defendants in 2019 as they did in 2018, data shows

According to  DC Code, Washington, DC criminal defendants cannot be held in jail from an inability to pay bail.  The specific DC code language states that the decision to release a defendant falls to a Superior Court judge: 

A judicial officer shall order the pretrial release of a defendant  subject to:

(A) Condition that the person not commit a local, state, or federal crime during the period of release; and

(B) Least restrictive further condition, or combination of conditions, that the judicial officer determines will reasonably assure the appearance of the person as required and the safety of any other person and the community. 

These conditions can include maintaining or seeking employment, maintaining or beginning an educational program, or restrictions on personal associations, travel or residence among others. 

Several homicide defendants are released to the High Intensity Supervision Program (HISP). The program monitors defendants who are determined to be high safety risks or present the appearance of a flight risk and need an increased level of supervision through:

  • weekly contact, 
  • drug testing, 
  • and/or location monitoring.  

HISP can include defendants who are on:

  • home confinement, 
  • in a halfway house, 
  • in a work-release program. 

Defendants who are not high risk can be released subject to other supervision programs under the Pretrial Services Agency for the District of Columbia (PSA), according to the agency’s website.  Defendants who are in violation of release conditions can be stepped-back to either home confinement or jail. 

Pretrial Release Data

D.C. Witness data shows a 33 percent decrease in the number of murder defendants who were granted pretrial release in 2019 compared to 2018.

Breakdown

There were 179 homicides committed in 2019 and 163 homicides in 2018, according to D.C. Witness data. The Metropolitan Police Department arrested 97 murder suspects in 2019 compared to 112 suspects in 2018. 

Data shows a decrease in the number of homicide-related arrests, 15, compared to an increase in the number of homicides, 16, from 2018 to 2019. 

Of the suspects arrested in 2019, judges granted pretrial release to 16 defendants. Five of the 16 defendants were released in 2020. 

Judges granted pretrial release for 24 defendants who were arrested in 2018. Not all of the defendants were released in 2018. According to D.C. Witness data, eight defendants were released in 2019 and two defendants were released in 2020. 

As of April 1, 11 of the released defendants arrested in 2019 do not have a trial scheduled, while two defendants are scheduled for trials in 2020. 

Twelve of the released defendants arrested in 2018 are still waiting for trial, as of April 1. Three defendants trials have not been scheduled, according to DC Courts. One defendant was found guilty.

Reoffenders

Two homicide defendants, who were arrested and released before trial in 2018, reoffended while released. Both defendants were charged with sexual solicitation and one defendant was also charged with attempted threats to do bodily harm. 

Two defendants, who were arrested in 2018, were also sent back to jail because they were not compliant with the terms of their release. 

No defendants, who were arrested in 2019 and granted pretrial release, reoffended.

Of the defendants who were granted pretrial release in 2018, judges dismissed four of the cases. Judges did not dismiss any of the cases that were granted pretrial release in 2019. 

Pretrial cases dismissed in 2018:

Plea Agreements

According to D.C. Witness data, some defendants, who were granted pretrial release, were also offered plea agreements.

For 2019, there were a total of 16 pretrial release defendants. Out of those cases, ten homicide defendants were not extended a plea offer, three defendants accepted a plea offer, two defendants have not given a response and one defendant rejected a plea offer.  

For 2018, there were 24 pretrial release defendants. Of those cases, 18 defendants are still undergoing court proceedings and six defendants’ cases have been closed.

Of the 18 defendants whose cases are still open from 2018, ten defendants were not offered a plea agreement, five defendants rejected a plea offer and three defendants accepted plea offers. 

Homicide Cases

Homicide Defendant John Fenner

Judge Craig Iscoe released John Fenner under HISP on Dec. 17, 2019. 

Fenner, 49, was charged on Dec. 4, 2019, with first-degree murder while armed for allegedly shooting Jonathan Hernandez on the 100 block of T Street, NE on May 18, 2019. Fenner is currently pending a felony status conference, which is scheduled to occur on June 19. 

As part of the terms of Fenner’s release, he was ordered to 15-days of home confinement, followed by a 10 p.m. to 6 a.m. curfew. Judge Iscoe ordered that Fenner be allowed to go to work and make two shopping trips per week. He also told Fenner that he must clear all other activities with pretrial services.

Homicide Defendant Tylek Dunkins

Judge Heide L Herrmann released Tylek Dunkins on personal recognizance with PSA supervision on Oct. 25, 2019. He was arrested the day before. 

Tylek Dunkins, 18, is charged with second-degree murder in connection to the death of 15-year-old Amoni Richardson on the 2900 block of East Capitol Street, SE. Dunkins allegedly struck Richardson while she was walking outside of a marked crosswalk from the south side of the street to the north side. 

As part of Dunkins’ release conditions, he has to be tested for a number of substances including synthetic cannabinoids and marijuana. 

He is scheduled for a preliminary hearing on May 5.

Homicide Defendant Jerome Myles

Judge Todd Edelman released Jerome Myles to home confinement under HISP on Sept. 6, 2019.

Myles, 21, was charged Nov. 29, 2018, with second-degree murder while armed for allegedly shooting 19-year-old Antonio Dixon on the 900 block of 5th Street, SE on Oct. 20, 2018.

D.C. Witness reported that even though Judge Edelman said that Myles had no prior convictions and was less likely to pose a threat to the community while released, he ordered that the defendant stay away from the crime scene. According to court documents, the scene was described as a “communal hallway.” It is unclear why Judge Edelman ordered the defendant to stay away from the crime scene. 

The prosecution indicted Myles on Sept. 30, 2019, with three charges, including second-degree murder while armed, possession of a firearm during a crime of violence, and carrying a pistol without a license outside of a home or business.

Myles’ trial readiness hearing is scheduled for Nov. 13.

Homicide Defendant Terica Younger

Terica Younger pleaded guilty to voluntary manslaughter and two counts of assault for her involvement in the death of 43-year-old Talata Williams on the 2400 block of Good Hope Road, SE in 2017.  Younger, 43, was arrested on Oct. 3, 2018. 

Younger was granted release under personal recognizance under the supervision of PSA. After Younger failed to appear at a pretrial show cause hearing on June 7, 2019, Judge Milton C. Lee issued a bench warrant for her arrest. Once apprehended Younger will be held without bail, according to DC Courts. 

On Oct. 13, 2018, Younger was charged with a misdemeanor for attempted threats to do bodily harm. The defendant was released in the case, according to DC Courts. Younger was also charged with sexual solicitation on May 21, 2019. A cash bond of $500 was placed on another bench warrant that was issued for the defendant’s failure to appear at a June 19, 2019, status hearing. 

Homicide Defendant (Juvenile)

Judge Errol Arthur released a juvenile on HISP with global position system (gps) monitoring on June 4, 2019. 

The juvenile pleaded guilty to attempted robbery. 

The juvenile was initially charged with second-degree murder while armed, unlawful possession of a firearm, and unlawful possession of ammunition for allegedly being involved in the shooting of 23-year-old Jamal Kwame Crump on the 1300 block of Monroe Avenue, NW on Feb 27, 2019.

On Oct. 11, 2019, the juvenile was sentenced to two years in prison. 

Homicide Defendant Mason Binion

On March 12, 2018, Mason Binion was released to HISP by Judge Judith Bartnoff. Per the terms of his release, Binion was placed on GPS monitoring, given a curfew, and required to report for drug testing. He was charged with first-degree murder while armed after allegedly shooting Michael Francis Taylor, 21, on the 600 block of Farragut Street, NW on June 22, 2008. 

Binion, 33, and Taylor were allegedly friends. 

On Feb. 12, a jury found Binion guilty of first-degree murder while armed. 

In response to Binion’s defense attorney’s motion for emergency release to home confinement under HISP, Judge Ronna Beck granted the motion. He is scheduled to be sentenced on May 1.

According to court documents, between June 22, 2008, when Binion shot Taylor, and Jan. 25, 2018, when Binion was arrested and charged with first-degree murder while armed, he was also charged for other felonies, including possession with intent to distribute marijuana in February of 2011, a bail violation in April of 2011, possession of a controlled substance in July of 2014 and a complaint for violations of obligations of tenancy or other grounds for eviction in February of 2015.

The tenant violation was dismissed in March 2015.

Binion did not incur any other charges during the time he was released to HISP while undergoing court proceedings for the murder case. 

Homicide Defendant Darrise Jeffers

On April 15, 2019, Judge Iscoe released Darrise Jeffers to home confinement under HISP. He was also ordered to stay away from the Clay Terrace and Wellington Park neighborhoods as well as other defendants in the case.

Jeffers, 20, along with nine other defendants are charged with first-degree murder for their alleged involvement in the shooting of 10-year-old Makiyah Wilson on the 300 block of 53 Street, NE on July 16, 2018. Quanisha Ramsuer, who is also charged with obstruction of justice in relation to the shooting, was also granted pretrial release in the case.  According to court documents, the shooting resulted from a neighborhood rivalry.

On Oct. 16, 2019, Judge Beck told Jeffers that he violated the terms of his release. She ordered that he wait for his trial, which is scheduled to begin in 2021, at DC Jail.

According to Judge Beck, Jeffers left his house multiple times late at night. He had been released under home confinement. 

She said, after he had broken the rule the first time, a social worker told him to stop leaving the house. However, he continued to violate the terms of his release. 

Homicide Defendant Bobby Reginald Davis, Jr.

Bobby Reginald Davis Jr. was granted pretrial release by Judge Danya Dayson on Nov. 13, 2018. He was released under personal recognizance with PSA supervision. 

Davis was charged with first-degree murder and first-degree child cruelty for his alleged involvement in the death of 6-month-old Brooklynn Zakiyaa Hill-Davis on Sept. 10, 2018. Davis was arrested on Oct. 5, 2018. 

Davis’ case was dismissed in November of 2018. 

Homicide Defendant Victor Carvajal

Binion’s co-defendant, Victor Carvajal, was also released under HISP on Dec. 4, 2018, by order of Judge Bartnoff. Per the terms of his release, Carvajal was also placed on GPS monitoring, given a curfew, and required to report for drug testing. 

On May 7, 2019, Carvajal was taken off of HISP and his GPS monitor was removed due to interference with his work. He still had a curfew and had to report for drug testing until his jury trial. 

The 33-year-old was charged with first-degree murder while armed after Joshua Massaquoi, another defendant charged in Taylor’s murder, told police that Binion shot the victim and that Carvajal hit Taylor in the head with a rock.

Carvajal was arrested on Oct. 31, 2018. His case was dismissed the day before opening statements. 

Massaquoi, 32, who was not granted pretrial release, was being held at St. Elizabeth’s hospital. As of March 24, Massaquoi was placed on home confinement with gps monitoring. His defense attorney filed an emergency motion for release from custody because of the COVID-19 pandemic on March 19. Massaquoi sentencing was rescheduled from March 30 to July 7. 

Homicide Defendant Gerard Derrick James

Judge Rainey Brandt placed Gerard Derrick James on personal recognizance under supervision of PSA on Dec. 27, 2018.

On Sept. 3, 2019, James, 46, pleaded guilty to negligent homicide for fatally striking 61-year-old Monica Adams Carlson and 85-year-old Cora Louise Adams while they were in the crosswalk at the intersection of 7th Street and Pennsylvania Avenue, NW on Dec. 19, 2018. He was arrested eight days later. 

According to court documents, James was using his cellphone when he allegedly struck the two women.

James’ sentencing for March 19 was rescheduled to May 7, due to a change in court proceedings in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

This report was written by Corrine Simon and Katlyn Richardson

Edited by LaTrina Antoine

D.C. Witness
D.C. Witness is a registered 501-c-3 organization that tracks every homicide in the District of Columbia from act to judicial resolution, with daily updates, a tracking map, unparalleled data and data analysis stories that inform the public about the Criminal Justice System, cases and trends.