Detective Takes Stand in Preliminary Hearing for Murder Defendant

The lead detective in a homicide investigation gave his testimony during a preliminary hearing to determine if the case has enough evidence to go to trial. 

Darrell Moore is charged with first-degree murder while armed in the shooting of Julius Hayes on the 300 block of 18th Street, NE, on April 3. During a Nov. 18 hearing, the defense mentioned that a potential pre-indictment plea deal was on the table but due to the fact evidentiary proceedings have already begun, it appears negotiations have faltered.

Two video clips from surveillance cameras in the neighborhood positioned on opposite sides of the street where the shooting happened were shown. In both, a black sedan is seen driving up to a curb. It parks and the driver who is alleged to be Moore gets out. He leaves the frame of the video before returning less than two minutes later and driving off. Several kids can be seen playing on the sidewalk and around three or four pedestrians walk past the video frame down both sidewalks.

Several minutes later, the same car returns but somewhat double-parks this time, partially obstructing traffic on the street. The same man, who is alleged to be Moore, gets out once again and begins conversing with a shorter man believed to be Hayes. Following an apparent heated argument between the two, the shorter man leaves and crosses the street. The man believed to be Moore then follows him, moving out of frame. Several gunshots ring out and screaming voices can be heard as the alleged shooter ducks quickly back into the black sedan and drives off in the direction of C Street, NE. 

In the second video, two neighbors ran out of their homes to investigate the noise and watched the shooter drive off. Hayes is not visible in either of the surveillance videos after being shot.

Several .40 caliber bullet casings were found in the vicinity but were determined to be irrelevant due to the murder weapon being a long-barrelled revolver. A revolver, unlike a handgun with a magazine, does not expel its casings when fired—casings remain in the cylinder and have to be discarded manually. Two projectiles were recovered from the scene, one on the sidewalk and one from the autopsy. Through forensic analysis, both were determined to have been fired from the same gun. Hayes was shot a total of six times on the right side of his body.

The defense and prosecution also stipulated to the discovery of stippling on Hayes’ body, which was detailed in the medical examiner’s report. Stippling is a secondary effect of getting shot that refers to orange and brownish marks, punctures and abrasions around entry wounds as a result of unburned or expelled powder from a bullet. Stippling marks were not observed by police officers at the crime scene on April 3—they were later discovered during an autopsy.

There was only one witness who identified Moore on the scene. When defense attorney Kevin Irving pressed the detective on the validity of the witness’s statement, he was reluctant to provide any contextual or relationship details that might reveal the witness’s identity.

According to court documents, a witness who provided background information for investigators said an individual by the name of “Greg” was in the area of the 300 block of 18th Street. Irving suggested “Greg” could have been the shooter, but the detective maintained that the investigation showed “Greg” was not at the location during the time of the incident. When Irving asked if the detective had spoken to “Greg” directly, he said he had not and that such a conclusion was reached using surveillance footage and witness accounts. The detective also added “Greg” was much taller than Moore, who is around five-foot-two, and was unlikely to have been the shooter seen on the two video clips. 

Irving also pointed out various passersby, including a pedestrian who glanced at the two men arguing, as potential persons of interest. The detective explained those people were not pursued because they were determined to be irrelevant in the homicide investigation. When pressed on why he did not pursue nor identify at all bystanders for questioning, the detective replied, “I don’t just show witnesses a video and ask them, ‘Is this you?’”

Irving also questioned whether detectives could even tell Moore was driving the car in both video clips. “I mean, I see [Moore] now. I know what he looks like,” the detective replied, explaining how Moore’s skin complexion, physical build and physical height helped identify the defendant as the alleged murderer.

The black Ford Fusion, which the detective said belonged to Moore’s girlfriend, was caught by DC license plate readers entering DC from the lower end of Prince George’s County, Md. on the day of the incident.

The detective said search warrants were issued for Moore’s girlfriend, mother and stepfather’s homes during the course of the investigation. Moore’s stepfather pointed him to a hallway closet that belonged to the defendant. The detective said he found a pair of Timberland boots that were identical to a pair that were identified on the shooter at the incident location. 

In the warrant for Moore’s arrest, a background detail revealed Moore and Hayes had an altercation at a prison between 2006 and 2007. When Irving asked about the details of the incident, the detective replied he could not recall from the investigation whether the defendant and the decedent were cellmates or held in the same cell block, but confirmed the two “overlapped”.

Another piece of evidence entered into the record were cell tower records acquired from several cell phones confiscated from Moore and the residences for which search warrants were issued. The detective said shortly after Hayes was shot, several calls were made in rapid succession that involved Moore’s phone across the regions he came from near Hyattsville and College Park, Md.

Parties were not able to finish the preliminary hearing on Dec. 15. Proceedings are scheduled to pick back up on Jan. 4.