Defense Says Evidence Withheld in Murder Case

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On Feb. 14, defense attorneys in a non-fatal shooting case claimed the prosecution withheld information regarding grand jury findings before DC Superior Court Judge Robert Okun, and requested the defendant be released. 

Ernest Cleveland, 30, is charged with seven counts including first-degree murder while armed, assault with intent to kill while armed, and multiple counts of possession of a firearm during a crime of violence, for his alleged involvement in the shooting death of 39-year-old Edward Pearson and the wounding of another individual on Nov. 26, 2020, on the 2900 block of Connecticut Avenue, NW.  

Cleveland’s defense attorneys previously filed to dismiss the case, alleging that a Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) officer had committed perjury. While the request was denied, the judge chose to review the defendant’s bond. 

The defense opened by stating that the prosecution “cannot exclude exculpatory evidence”, claiming it had not been turned over to them in a timely manner. 

Furthermore, the defense alleged that the evidence had a significant impact given that it wasn’t available to the grand jury before it issued an indictment.

The defense said that a “ten-thousand page document dump” arrived only after a previous hearing, and that it put an unfair burden on defense counsel.

The defense underlined the severity of the issue, stating that this was “contrary to what [U.S Attorney’s Office] stands for.”

The prosecution labeled these accusations “personal attacks” and asked to respond in writing.

According to the defense, the lead detective “disregarded evidence” and “did not investigate” information that “pointed away from the defendant.”

The defense cited a witness who they allege had changed testimony numerous times. They presented video footage of the detective interrogating a witness, arguing that his actions showed him trying to “elicit a story.” 

In addition, the defense also pointed to a second suspect, who they argue was neglected by MPD investigators. The defense attorney, Madalyn Harvey, alleged that these improprieties in handling the case warranted bond for the defendant. 

Owing to time constraints, the prosecution was not able to respond.

Parties are set to resume this matter Feb. 21.

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