Did Kareem Ware’s 2009 Homicide Happen in DC or Maryland?

Thirteen years after a man was killed in what is suspected to have been a robbery gone wrong, attorneys are divided over a key detail of the homicide- where it happened.

Saeve Evans and Kareem Ware were in a vehicle together on May 2, 2009, according to court documents. A witness who agreed to cooperate with the government after picking up felony charges claims that Evans told them he and two others intended to pick Ware up and rob him, but the plan went wrong when Ware saw police and allegedly tried to take a gun from another individual. Evans then allegedly shot Ware in the head. A Prince George’s County police officer pursued the vehicle from Maryland into DC before eventually losing it. Ware was shot in the head a total of three times. Evans was arrested and charged with first-degree murder while armed almost exactly a decade later.

“This a fairly novel issue,” said DC Superior Court Judge Maribeth Raffinan during a Feb. 8 hearing as parties debated if the DC courts system has jurisdiction over the case. The defense counsel has petitioned the court to dismiss the case for lack of jurisdiction.

The law gives DC jurisdiction over a murder or manslaughter case if the fatal blow was dealt in DC, even if the victim did not die in DC.

The prosecutor argued that there was ample evidence to prove DC had the jurisdiction needed.  She referred to the officer who chased the vehicle from Maryland into DC. Ware was found dead in the front passenger seat of the vehicle, according to court documents. The officer has stated that, while on Livingston Road in DC, the vehicle’s front passenger appeared to be alive.

The prosecutor also cited a ballistics expert and a medical examiner who are expert witnesses in this case. 

The ballistic expert had explained how the trajectory of the bullet lines up with shots coming from behind the victim as well as how the blood splatter is consistent with someone being hit from the back of the head, supporting the notion that Ware was in the front passenger seat. The blood had splattered all over the dashboard of the car.  

Ware’s autopsy report labels his three gunshot wounds as A, B and C, though that is not meant to indicate the order in which they were fired, according to court documents. The medical examiner determined that the bullet “A” would not have instantly killed the victim but he only would have been alive for minutes without significant medical care.  However, she is expected to testify that the other two shots caused “more direct brain injuries,” according to court documents. Still, the prosecutor said that it would not be possible to know which bullet killed Ware or when exactly he died.

Defense attorneys Stephany Reaves and Dominique Winters showed an autopsy photo in court demonstrating that the victim sustained no serious injuries before the shooting. They argued that the three bullets had to have been the source of the decedent’s blood trail that was found in Maryland.

In a factual supplement to their dismissal motion, the defense points out that a civilian witness says they were at the Eastover Shopping Center in Maryland on the day of the homicide when they saw a grey SUV come across the center’s parking lot. The witness says they heard three gunshots but went on to clarify that it could have been more.

The defense concluded their arguments by noting that the prosecutor’s first witness was narrating his chase with the vehicle while driving into DC.  He was narrating over the police radio, while in Maryland the witness stated that they had seen muzzle flashes and heard gunshots.  However, when the witness entered DC they did not mention any other muzzle flashes nor did they mention gunshots. 

DC Superior Court Judge Maribeth Raffinan did not rule on the motion that day.  She wanted extra time to review all the evidence and the cases the defense cited. Parties are scheduled to reconvene on Feb. 16.