Domestic Violence Defendant Sentenced for Armed Break-In

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A DC Superior Court judge sentenced a man for forcing his way into his ex-girlfriend’s home while armed with a pocket knife.

Marlin Reynolds went to his ex-girlfriend’s home and knocked on the door. After not being let in, he managed to kick the door down. He entered, brandishing his knife.  But his ex’s significant other quickly fired his gun, shooting Reynolds around his armpit.

But Reynolds gave differing narratives about the incident- when being questioned at the hospital, he told police he was shot while visiting his girlfriend’s apartment. The prosecutor said he later gave a different story to change the trajectory of the blame, saying he was shot on Martin Luther King Jr. Avenue. 

The prosecutor displayed security footage to clarify the narrative.  While short, it showed Reynolds entering the area of the apartment complex. He could then be seen leaving while a second bullet was fired in his direction by his ex-girlfriend’s partner.

The prosecutor said Reynolds’ history includes “a terrifying series of assaults and break-ins.” In one of the incidents, his ex-girlfriend’s eardrum was permanently broken. Another ex-girlfriend previously accused him of domestic violence as well. They requested a total of five-and-a-half years in prison for all of the offenses Reynolds pleaded guilty to. This was in the upper half of the sentencing guidelines provided by evaluating a variety of factors, including the defendant’s criminal history score and the incident itself. 

Defense attorney Frederick Iverson requested a two-year sentence, which is in the lower half of the guidelines. He said Reynolds was being “unfairly penalized” for his prior cases, many of which he was not convicted in.  He provided context not only for Reynolds’ life but for his issues with his ex-girlfriend as well.

Reynolds grew up in a household where he experienced beatings and other forms of abuse throughout his childhood. He also had debilitating ADHD and was in special education programs. The fact that the defendant was able to admit these details about his life was monumental to Iverson, who said this shows his growth and that he should receive treatment for his issues. 

“Everyone agrees he should receive treatment,” Judge James Crowell responded. “The problem is he is absolutely a danger to the community.” 

Iverson said the prosecutor’s narrative does not make full sense, telling Judge Crowell that Reynolds did not go to the apartment complex to attack but still conceding that his actions were wrong. Reynolds and his ex-girlfriend’s “horribly dysfunctional” relationship was a mitigating factor for Iverson because he said they were not pointing fingers since she was also an aggressor. He said the incident leaned towards self-defense and the whole reason he pulled out the knife was because of the history and feeling he was being threatened after entering her apartment. 

“It’s a distinction because it is a different mindset, Your Honor,” he said. “It’s still wrong as the day is long.” 

Reynolds’ ex-girlfriend had planned on attending the Jan. 12 hearing but felt sick the morning of. She instead gave a written victim impact statement to the prosecutor, who read it aloud in court.

“I’m afraid to be by myself,” she wrote. “He’s threatened me, he’s threatened my life.”  The victim also wrote that she does not wish him any pain, but needs him to understand what he did wrong. 

Judge Crowell echoed both the prosecutor and the defense in his conclusion. 

“These are incredibly difficult cases and incredibly difficult for those involved,” Judge Crowell said. “Maybe there was violence on both sides.” He noted that the ex-girlfriend had left the situation but Reynolds had been unable to.  

However, he disagreed with Iverson’s argument that Reynolds was being unfairly penalized for his prior cases- saying that if he were, his criminal history score would have been much higher. 

Reynolds was initially charged with first-degree burglary while armed and simple assault following his arrest in June 2020. Last September, he was indicted on charges of assault with significant bodily injury, stalking, first-degree burglary, first-degree burglary while armed, destruction of property less than $1,000, destruction of property $1,000 or more, simple assault, assault with a dangerous weapon while armed and assaulting a law enforcement officer. Less than one month later, he agreed to plead guilty to assault with a dangerous weapon, destruction of property less than $1,000 and unlawful entry onto private property as part of a deal he made with the prosecution.

Judge Crowell sentenced Reynolds to serve a total of 38 months in prison. The defendant, who has been held at DC Jail since he was arrested, will receive credit for time served.

Reynolds received a fully suspended 180-day sentence with one year of supervised probation for both the unlawful entry charge and the destruction of property charge. He was sentenced to 60 months, 22 of which were suspended, followed by two years of supervised probation for the assault with a dangerous weapon charge.

“This is a classic, serial domestic violence abuse that escalated from beating this woman, beating her again and just not being able to come at her,”  Judge Crowell said. “It’s this repetitive escalated domestic violence which in my experience usually ends up with someone dead.” He said it is difficult to believe the idea that Reynolds went to her home without any malice.

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