‘I Was Scared For My Life,’ Key Witness Testifies in Homicide Trial

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On Feb. 8, testimony in a murder trial before DC Superior Court Judge Michael O’Keefe was interrupted by a courtroom outburst perceived as a threat.

Terrell Poe, 37, is charged with first-degree murder while armed, possession of a firearm during a crime of violence, and possession of a firearm by a prior convict, for his alleged involvement in the fatal shooting of 30-year-old Christopher Washington on Sept. 23, 2020, on the 400 block of Southern Avenue, SE.

The first witness testified that he knew Washington, and added that he personally saw Poe drive in the direction where the incident occurred in a white pick up truck.

Poe’s defense attorney, Marnitta King, noted the witness previously told the grand jury that his friend actually had a bad feeling something was going to happen in the parking lot.

King also stated that he failed to mention his daughter was with him when events unfolded.

As the witness was testifying, an unidentified individual in the courtroom made an apparently threatening gesture, which caused the witness to duck and cover his face with his hoodie.

King believed that he was trying to take a photo of the courtroom. After a quick recess, the clerk said a juror was scared for her safety and hesitant to return.

“We just had one guy in the back of the courtroom come in and hold his fingers up,” the witness said to the court, making a gun-like gesture with his hand to his head. He also said he would see people waiting outside of his house and that he would receive threatening phone calls from unknown numbers.

“I was scared for my life,” said the witness.

Then a digital information specialist discussed the contents of a red iPhone recovered at the scene. The iPhone allegedly belonged to Poe, and had multiple photos of firearms, as well as selfies of the defendant.

The analysis included phone records of unread texts that were allegedly sent to the defendant’s phone two hours before the murder occurred including a message that came from an unknown number saying “I’m ready.”

Prosecutors also called a forensic firearm and tool mark examiner who explained the type of projectiles and casings found at the scene of the crime and reviewed the images of the firearms found in the red iPhone.

He claimed that casings found could match the firearms in the images, but could not officially confirm because he does not physically have the weapon to test it.

Following the expert witness’ testimony, prosecutors called a former senior detective of the Metropolitan Police Department (MPD), who testified he was the one who collected the buccal swab from Poe. The prosecution provided the witness with the exact sample in the collection box and admitted it into evidence. 

Due to time constraints, the witness was unable to finish their testimony.

Parties are slated to return Feb. 12 to resume trial.

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