Judge Addresses More Motions in Triple-Homicide Case

DC Superior Court Judge Milton Lee ruled on multiple defense motions in a 2019 triple-homicide case.

Johnathan Winston, 32, is charged with three counts of first-degree murder while armed for shooting 26-year-old Sean Shuler, 26-year-old Javon Abney, and 24-year-old Tyrik Hagood on Jan. 26, 2019. 

Winston is also charged with conspiracy, three counts of possession of a firearm during a crime of violence, and unlawful possession of a firearm. 

During a June 17 hearing, defense attorney Kevin Irving objected to the prosecution bringing up Winston’s prior felony conviction for unlawful possession of a firearm. He argued that the jury would be unduly prejudiced by learning of the prior felony conviction. 

Judge Lee ruled he would limit prejudice by providing the jury instructions on how to use the information and by preventing the prosecution from saying “felony” when mentioning the prior conviction. 

Irving then brought up a motion to exclude testimony from a cell data expert that the prosecutor intended to call to the stand. According to the prosecution, the expert intended to testify to 12 hours of the defendant’s calls and use cell tracking data to establish Winston’s location during those calls. 

Irving objected to the expert testifying that cell phones typically connect to the nearest tower, a statement that Irving argued was not always true. Judge Lee agreed with the defense but ruled that the cell data evidence would be admissible and that Irving would be free to bring the matter up during his cross-examination of the expert. 

Irving also motioned to sever Winston’s case from his co-defendant Rakeem Willis, 31.

Judge Lee said he avoided broaching the severance issue because he would not be the presiding judge for the trial. Both parties agreed to wait on the issue. 

According to court documents, Metropolitan Police Department officers found the three victims suffering from gunshot wounds near and inside a car parked on the 1500 block of Fort Davis Place, SE. All three victims were pronounced dead at the scene.

Jury selection for this case is scheduled for Aug. 10.