Acquitted: Homicide Victim’s ‘Brother’ Describes How He Became a Witness Instead of a Suspect

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Editor’s note: On May 30, a jury acquitted Devonte Brothers of all charges connected to the homicide of Deron Leake. Brothers is still being held on homicide charges in another case.

A homicide victim’s “brother,” testified about his involvement in the investigation of a fatal shooting before a jury in DC Superior Court Judge Anthony Epstein’s courtroom on May 21. 

Devonte Brothers, 29, is charged with first-degree murder while armed, assault with intent to kill while armed, two counts of possession of a firearm during a crime of violence, and unlawful possession of a firearm by a prior convict, for his alleged involvement in the murder of 27-year-old Deron Leake, also known as “Snoop”, on Oct. 17, 2019, at the Cascade Apartment Complex on the 4200 block of 6th Street, SE. The incident also left one individual with non-life threatening injuries.

Leake’s friend, who identified himself as part of a “blood brother” group to which he, Leake, and two other individuals belonged, testified he had spent time with Leake leading up to his murder. 

The witness identified Leake as his “big brother,” adding that their relationship was so close, he called Leake’s mom his mom. 

According to the witness, on the day of the incident, the group of four friends met up at Leake’s house to hangout, before heading to another friend’s neighborhood, where they drank and smoked weed. 

At some point, Leake told them they should go to the Cascade Apartment Complex, where he grew up, the witness testified. 

As the friends made their way into one of the buildings in the complex, “Snoop dapped everyone up,” stating there was a group of individuals hanging out in the hallway making friendly handshake gestures.

The witness then described Leake ‘s getting into an argument with one of the individuals, before one of their other friends urged them to leave. 

However, during cross examination, Dominique Winters, Brothers’ defense attorney, reminded him of previous testimony in which he stated he felt he was watching a movie and was having an out of body experience while intoxicated.

“Your legs started to feel heavy, right?” Winters asked, adding “You felt like you weren’t in your body.” 

The witness had previously testified that on the day of the incident he felt “like I was there, but I wasn’t. Even though I was there.”

According to the witness, the “blood brothers” exited the hallway to leave the neighborhood before being intercepted by two individuals outside, one of whom handed the shooter a gun. The witness stated he was standing next to Leake when he was shot. 

“Things happened quickly… the shooting came out of nowhere,” claimed the witness. 

The witness testified he was taken into custody at the scene, which was corroborated in previously presented body-worn camera footage. 

Prosecutors showed body-worn camera video of the witness telling an officer at the scene that the suspect was a light-skinned man, with a beard and short hair. 

During the course of the investigation, the witness stated, he met with detectives from the Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) multiple times to give them the information he knew about the incident. However, he was unable to identify a shooter until a year after the incident. 

Winters displayed footage, showing the witness and a MPD detective after the witness’ arrest in 2020. In the clip, the witness asks the detective how to get less or no time for the crime.

“If you have information on a violent crime, like a homicide, that might help,” the detective told the witness. Immediately, the witness told the detective he had information, “on my brother’s murder, for Deron Leake.” 

Days later, he identified Brothers as the shooter in a photo array. When asked by a detective, he stated he was “100 percent sure, [the individual] is the shooter.”

According to Winters, the witness’ case was dismissed by one of the prosecutors in the murder case after the witness identified Brothers as the killer. Based on the court schedule the prosecutor that dismissed the case against the witness did not join the murder investigation until June of 2023. 

However, the witness claimed he had no knowledge why the case was dismissed, insisting “they no-papers me,” indicating his case wasn’t referred for prosecution.

Parties are slated to reconvene May 22. 

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