Defense Attorney Alleges Mistreatment of Jailed Client

A defense attorney requested a murder defendant’s release from DC Jail due to the facility’s conditions of confinement.

Aaron Brown is charged with first-degree murder while armed in the shooting of 13-year-old Malachi Lukes on the 600 block of S Street, NW, on March 1, 2020. Brown is one of four defendants in this case.

During the Nov. 24 hearing, defense attorney Joseph Yarbough argued for his 25-year-old client to be released with GPS monitoring. He motioned for release in response to the U.S. Marshal Service’s report on their inspection of the jail.

Yarbough said the issues at the jail “are pervasive, not specific to one person at the jail.” He also cited the acting marshal for the U.S. District Court of Washington, Lamont Ruffin, who referred to a “systemic failure” at the jail because the facility did not meet U.S. standards in the investigation.

“Brown’s been in some of the units that have the worst conditions,” Yarbough said. Brown is seeking help for medical treatment, has had a fear for his safety at the jail and experienced abuse from the guards, according to Yarbough.

The prosecution cited the behaviors and pushback received from Brown at the jail. The prosecutor said some of the issues were self incited, including him breaking the water sprinkler and destroying a light fixture in his cell. 

In response, Yarbough said that Brown has been complaining about issues at the jail but nothing is done about it, so he “had to break things to get attention” from the guards and the jail conditions “interfere with the implicit rights of an individual,” such as the lack of food and water, as well as standing sewage.

Calling the conditions “unconstitutional” for pre-trial detainees, Yarbough expressed that the Department of Corrections is “unable and unwilling essentially to remedy any of these issues.” While the court has “instructed the DOC to remedy for a long time, it’s never changed a thing,” Yarbough said, “you can’t detain a person if it’s affecting punishment on a person.”

Judge Dayna Dayson said there can be a remedy, but it may not be the one that Yarbough is seeking.

The prosecutor said they can consider these conditions but are looking in the interest of the safety of the community. Because of Brown’s background, his “dangerousness” has not changed, according to the prosecution. However, the prosecution stated that “the defense seeks systemic changes that the Judge is very sympathetic to, but this is not the forum or venue to do that.”

Yarbough argued that the best remedy to the situation is release since other efforts the court has made to fix the issues didn’t work.

Judge Dayson did not agree that release is the remedy for Brown because of the seriousness of his criminal charges. She did not accept the motion during the hearing but mentioned that she will look more into the matter. Dayson said she understands they are “talking about overall moral issues” and there are “other options for remediation.”

The next hearing is Dec. 10.