Judge Allows Homicide Defendant to Leave Home Confinement, Will Rule on Transfer to Juvenile Court

DC Superior Court Judge Maribeth Raffinan decided to allow a homicide defendant to leave home confinement for purposes of employment and education. She did not reach a final ruling on whether his case should be transferred to juvenile court. 

Daquan Gray, 20, is charged with first-degree murder while armed in connection to allegedly shooting 15-year-old Jaylyn Wheeler on the 600 block of Alabama Ave., SE, on May 16, 2018. Gray was 16 at the time of the incident but is charged as an adult. The homicide stemmed from an earlier dispute at Ballou Senior High School when another student allegedly threatened Wheeler, according to court documents.

At the Aug. 2 hearing, defense attorney Dana Page advocated to release Gray from home confinement to personal recognizance, citing his “near perfect compliance” since his release on June 30, 2018. The release followed a mandate from the DC Court of Appeals after the court found substantial probability for second-degree murder at a June 11, 2018, preliminary hearing. 

“Mr. Gray has been in home confinement for almost four years in a one bedroom apartment where the bedroom is not his,” Page said, adding that Gray has been waiting to get a job and work towards his GED. “Home confinement is no longer appropriate and is certainly not necessary.”

The prosecution did not object to allowing Gray to leave home confinement for purposes of employment or education, but objected to the removal of a GPS device. 

“We think that’s keeping the community safe,” the prosecutor said. 

Judge Raffinan agreed with the prosecution, ruling that Gray should remain in home confinement except for purposes of employment or education. 

“I want to encourage you to do these things,” Raffinan told Gray.

Defense attorney Hanna Perry also argued in support of a motion to transfer Gray’s case to juvenile court, referring to the prosecution’s “unfettered discretion whether to charge sixteen and seventeen-year-olds as adults.”

“The government has been remarkably silent on how they make these decisions about who to pluck out of family court,” Perry said. “The government has decided behind closed doors that Daquan Gray could not be rehabilitated.”

“There’s absolutely no guidance from legislators and no review from the courts,” she added. 

The prosecutor refuted Perry’s argument, stating that the seriousness of the offense affords him the discretion to charge Gray as an adult.

“The defendant fatally shot a 15-year-old boy at point-blank range five times in broad daylight,” the prosecutor said. “This was not an impulsive act… This was a defendant who brought a loaded .25 caliber to a fist fight.”

The prosecutor also raised concerns that the court did not have the jurisdiction to make such a ruling. 

“The Court of Appeals has the authority to remove binding precedent,” the prosecutor said. “This court does not.”

Judge Raffinan echoed these concerns.

“It sounds like you’re advocating for change,” Judge Raffina said. “Can you tell me why I have the authority to decide it?” 

“In almost every state and federal court, the court reviews these decisions,” Perry said. 

Judge Raffinan did not reach a final decision, explaining that she needed more time to review the arguments and the case law. She scheduled a status hearing for Oct. 4 to reach a ruling and to set a trial date.