Defendant’s Mother Confirms His Connection to Co-Defendants in 2020 Homicide Trial

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On April 1, a defendant’s mother testified about clothing and phone calls that link suspects charged with murder and conspiracy before DC Superior Court Judge Rainey Brandt

Koran Jackson, 23, Tyiion Kyree Freeman, 24, and Stephen Nelson, 33, are three of five individuals charged with multiple counts of conspiracy, assault with the intent to kill while armed, first-degree murder while armed, carrying a pistol without a license, and possession of a firearm during a crime of violence in connection to the fatal shooting of 13-year-old Malachi Lukes on March 1, 2020 on the 600 block of S Street, NW. The shooting also left a second juvenile victim located in the vicinity suffering from an apparent gunshot wound to the right leg.  

The case also involves alleged co-conspirators Reginald Steele, 24, and Aaron Brown, 27. 

Throughout the trial, the prosecution has attempted to connect Jackson, Freeman, and Nelson to additional shootings that occurred on Feb. 22, Feb. 24, and a second shooting on March 1, 2020. The prosecution alleges a firearm conspiracy by the defendants, in which they aimed to obtain and use specific weapons in Lukes’ homicide.

At the start of the trial, the prosecution stated much like the specific firearms in the case, certain articles of clothing would become the “calling card” to specific defendants involved in the homicide. The prosecution alleges Jackson is associated with a black hoodie with the NASA insignia on it. 

Prosecutors previously presented surveillance footage of a BP gas station with three men one of whom was wearing a black, NASA hoodie. Later, it was revealed that the Kia Soul the defendants are alleged to have been driving in on March 1 was stopped at a BP gas station hours before it was tracked to the alley of Lukes’ homicide. 

Jackson’s mother testified about buying Jackson clothing and that, “could have been the NASA hoodie” but that she could not recall specifically. 

The prosecution then presented a copy of three photos that had been shown to the witness during the search of the family’s home for identification.

According to the witness’ grand jury testimony, she had recognized two of the three photos positively identifying Jackson wearing a black hoodie with the NASA insignia in one photo.  

To further claims of conspiracy among the defendants, the prosecution asked the witness to draw connections between Jackson and the Byrd family. 

Tahlil Byrd, 19, was the victim of a fatal shooting on the 600 block of S Street Sept. 9, 2019. The prosecution alleges that the defendants were friends of Byrd and his family, and that their alleged shooting spree was an act of retaliation following Byrd’s killing. 

To connect Jackson to Byrd, the prosecution asked the witness about Jackson’s friendship with Byrd’s brother. The witness testified that Jackson and Byrd’s brother were childhood friends.

According to the witness’ grand jury statements, she also believed that Tahlil and Jackson were friends. 

The prosecution presented recordings of Jackson calling his mother from jail. In those calls, Jackson asked his mother to connect the call with a third person who the witness later identified as Byrd’s sister. 

The prosecution also asked the witness if she had known or heard of a person by the name of “Boogie”. The witness testified that prior to court proceedings, she had not. 

The witness admitted that later in the three way call, Jackson and Byrd’s sister could clearly be heard mentioning an “Uncle Boog”. 

Uncle Boog, or Boogie, is a nickname that prosecution has established refers to Nelson based on Nelson’s previously admitted jail calls. 

In cross examination, Nelson’s defense attorney, Lisbeth Saperstein, asked the witness if she had been attentive during the portion of the call where Boogie was mentioned. The witness admitted that she “had not been listening very closely” to the call and reaffirmed she had not heard of Boogie prior to testifying in court. 

The prosecution also asked the witness about a separate call with Jackson in which the name “T.Y” was mentioned. The witness admitted they were referring to Freeman, and that Jackson and Freeman were childhood friends. 

To corroborate the witness’ statements, the prosecution presented a video of Freeman, Steele, and Jackson together listening to music.  

The prosecution then called one of the Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) detectives who had executed a search warrant on the Jackson residence.

The detective testified that a NASA hoodie, cellular device, and green Nike sneaker were found.

In his cross examination of the detective, Freeman’s defense attorney, Shawn Sukumar, asked the detective if he was present when the residence was first entered by police. The detective admitted that he had not.

Sukumar pointed out that because of the lack of body-worn camera footage, the detective has a limited ability to speak to the scene’s integrity.

In his cross examination, McDaniel asked the detective if any firearm or ammunition had been discovered in the search of the Jackson residence. The detective said no.

The final witness prosecution called was a former forensic analyst for the Department of Forensic Sciences (DFS) who had responded to the Jackson residence in May of 2020. 

McDaniel asked the witness if any bullets or gun had been found and photographed at the scene. The DFS reaffirmed that no firearm or cartridges had been found. 

In his cross examination, Sukumar pointed out that the DFS officer had arrived on the scene with minimal information about the case. The prosecution pointed out in their redirect that any DFS member was equipped with tools to process evidence regardless of information received previously. 

Parties are slated to return April 2.

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