Complex Homicide Trial Results in a Deadlocked Jury

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On June 23, after four days of deliberation jurors told DC Superior Court Judge Michael Ryan that they were deadlocked and unable to reach a verdict in a complex murder case. 

Victor Coley, 60, was found guilty in 2015 for his involvement in a shooting that injured four on Nov. 6, 2013 on the 3900 block of Minnesota Avenue, NE. His conviction included assault with intent to kill and possession of a firearm, along with 11 other charges.

In 2021, one of Coley’s victims, 65-year-old Dennis Foster, died allegedly from gunshot wounds sustained in the 2013 shooting.  As a result new murder charges were filed against Coley.

According to testimony from several witnesses, Foster was paralyzed after being shot twice in the back, and suffered years of health complications preceding his death on Dec. 3, 2021. 

Coley was convicted of shooting three other people. One victim suffered a shot to the leg, another to the hand, and a third was shot in the back of the head and in the chest. 

Prosecution witnesses included eyewitnesses, medical examiners, and toxicologists from the DC Office of the Chief Medical Examiner (OCME).  On June 7, a medical examiner testified that Foster died of complications caused by his gunshot wounds, and that his manner of death was homicide.

One of the surviving victims, who still has bullet fragments in his chest, testified he suffers migraines from the shooting.

Key witnesses for the defense included medical experts as well as police officers who responded to the crime scene in 2013. 

On June 12, a forensic pathologist called forth by the defense testified that elevated levels of sertraline, a drug commonly known as Zoloft and used to treat depression and other mental health conditions, in Foster’s blood was elevated and could have caused an overdose. 

Two days later, the chief toxicologist at the OCME testified that the levels of sertraline in Foster’s blood were “inconsistent with an acute overdose.”

In their closing statements, prosecutors stated that Coley intended to execute Foster when he shot him from close range in 2013, and urged the jury to find him guilty of Foster’s murder.

Defense attorneys brought forward various inconsistencies in the prosecution’s argument and witness testimony that was ultimately enough to result in a hung jury.

A status hearing is set for July 10 to figure out steps for a new trial.

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