Issues Arise Between Parties About Evidence in Homicide Trial

During a Sept. 28 homicide trial, defense attorney Michael Madden objected to the prosecutor’s choice of evidence, saying the defense was unprepared to discuss evidence from social media platforms. 

Derek Turner, 31, and co-defendant Ronnika Jennings, 44, are charged with first-degree murder while armed, possession of a firearm during a crime of violence, and conspiracy in connection with the shooting of 28-year-old Andrew McPhatter on March 5, 2017, on the 3500 block of Wheeler Road, SE. 

Turner is also charged with first-degree murder while armed for allegedly shooting 23-year-old Devin Hall on Jan. 7, 2017, on the 3500 block of 6th Street, SE.

Jennings is specifically accused of sharing criminal intelligence with Turner during her time working as a clerk for the Metropolitan Police Department (MPD). The third co-defendant Duan Hill, 33, is charged with conspiracy and obstruction of justice. 

The prosecution introduced a Special Agent with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) who identified both Turner and Jennings from his job. This witness stated that he has investigated the feud between the Wahler Place and Trenton Park neighborhoods by undergoing witness interviews and examining police reports and databases. 

The prosecution began interrogating the witness on social media sources, such as Instagram and YouTube. The prosecutor also questioned witnesses on google searches. 

“I feel almost unprepared to cross-examine [this witness],” Madden said. He stated that the prosecution needs to anticipate what specific exhibits they will be referencing throughout their direct examination. 

He also questioned this witness’ qualifications to testify about the feud between Wahler Place and Trenton Park. He said the prosecution has access to representatives from these neighborhoods that could testify about the feud instead. 

After speaking with the prosecutor, Madden said he does not anticipate further delays and the prosecution identified the relevant documents that they will be referencing.

Madden then stated that he will review those documents during the weekend. The prosecutor agreed to not exploring issues related to Instagram and google searches during the current witness’s testimony.

The prosecution also introduced three other witnesses. The first was a Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) officer, who showed video footage of Turner’s arrest on March 11, 2017, from another officer’s body-worn camera (BWC). The officer testified that Turner’s arrest was without incident. “He was just calm, respectful. Just acting normal,” the officer said. 

He also said police officers on the site confiscated two telephones as evidence.   

A MPD detective that works in the homicide branch testified about the McPhatter shooting. He discussed searching a vehicle that was seized from the site. “There was a glock, a 10 mm firearm” in the glove compartment,” he said.  

He also mentioned obtaining two search warrants to undergo a complete extraction, or a content download, of two cell-phones that were collected during Turner’s arrest. 

DC Superior Court Judge Marisa J. Demeo set the trial to continue on Sept 29.

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