Hearing Continues So Homicide Defendant Can Consider Plea Deal 

DC Superior Court Judge Milton Lee continued a hearing on Sept. 21, so a homicide defendant could have time to consider a plea offer. 

William Whitaker, 20, was indicted on charges of first-degree murder while armed, conspiracy, possession of a firearm during a crime of violence, and criminal street gang affiliation in connection to the murder of  18-year-old Malick Cisse on Jan. 8, 2020, on the 1300 block of 7th Street, NW.

Defense attorney Paula Pagan was present as stand-in counsel for David Benowitzs.  Pagan asked to reschedule on the behalf of  Whitaker to review the plea offer prosecution sent over the night before.

The deal hadn’t been reviewed by the defendant because the document wasn’t printed. The prosecution suggested they could possibly print out the offer and review it with the defendant before the hearing began.

Judge Lee wanted to know why the defense didn’t review the offer with the defendant before the hearing because the plea deal was sent over months in advance and last night.

Pagan said the formal plea offer hasn’t been received in writing.

“What is the difference,” Judge Lee asked. 

Pagan said placing the deal in writing is an “appropriate and necessary” step because the defendant should be aware of all the terms and conditions that come with taking a plea deal.

The prosecution said the plea deal is to second-degree murder while armed and the defense has received the plea because it was sent in an abundance of caution due to discrepancies in the fact section. The plea deal was set to expire months ago but will remain until the next hearing. 

Judge Lee told Whitaker to review the plea and talk to his lawyers and family members to make his final decision.

According to court documents, Cisse walked alone to the area of the Mount Vernon Square Metro station around 11:22 p.m. after a woman, who is believed to be Whitaker’s significant other, asked to meet him on the train. When he arrived, the woman was not there. 

Cisse began walking back to his residence as a suspect, who is believed to be Whitaker, drove up in a car and allegedly shot him in the back of the head at approximately 11:31 p.m. Cisse was pronounced dead shortly after midnight.

The next hearing is set for  Oct. 12.