Family Members of Murder Victim Testify in Trial

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An emotional second day of trial ensued as the prosecution called witnesses close to the victim. 

Jean Kearney, 35, is charged in connection to the murder of Dontra Harris, 33, and the assault of a law enforcement officer. Kearney has seven charges against him, including first-degree murder while armed, assault on a police officer while armed, and two counts of possession of a firearm during a crime of violence, among other charges. 

Harris was murdered on April 4, 2021, on the 1800 block of 24th Street, NE. The defendant then allegedly assaulted an officer on May 13, 2021, as a group of Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) officers were trying to serve a search warrant at his residence, according to court documents. 

On March 15, Harris’ dad said his house was the “go-to” house in the neighborhood. There was always someone there and he was typically helping someone work on their car, he said. 

He told the jury that the relationship between neighbors was more of a familial relationship than it was friendship; they all looked after one another.

That was no different with Kearney. Growing up, he was one of Harris’ best friends; he even used to call Harris’ dad “pops”. 

When asked to identify the individual he was talking about in court, Harris’ dad pointed out the defendant.

The dad explained that as Harris started to grow up, he realized he had responsibilities and needed to prioritize his life when he had kids. He started to drift away from a lot of people, and this may have upset Kearney, the dad said.  

During cross examination, Kearney’s defense attorney, Michael Madden, questioned Harris’ dad regarding an incident with the defendant where the father showed up to the defendant’s house after the shooting and screamed at him. Harris’ dad explained that he was extremely upset after his son’s passing, and he wanted Kearney to own up to it. 

The victim’s brother was also called to testify. Both witnesses talked about the last time they saw Harris, saying he was extremely anxious and holding back from exploding. 

The victim’s brother said he hadn’t grown up with Harris because he lived with his mom in Pennsylvania. When he moved to DC he said he moved in with Harris and was able to make up for lost time from their childhood. 

He explained that when he first met Kearney, he was told to refer to him as his cousin, so he treated him like any other family member. 

According to the witness, a month before his brother’s shooting, the defendant aggressively approached him regarding “his cut” for merchandise that was being sold for the witness’ podcast. The incident never became physical, but the brother said people around the neighborhood knew it had happened. 

He said he didn’t know if the two incidents were connected to one another.

Trial is slated to resume March 16.

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