Judge Continues Motion Hearing for Homicide Co-Defendants

During a murder trial defense attorneys questioned evidence collection methods the police used during their investigation.  

Derek Turner, 31, and Ronnika Jennings, 44, are charged with first-degree murder while armed, obstruction of justice and conspiracy in connection with the fatal 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 the fatal shooting of 23-year-old Devin Hall on Jan. 7, 2017, on the 3500 block of 6th Street, SE. Jennings is accused of providing Turner with confidential information during her time as a customer service representative for the Metropolitan Police Department. Another co-defendant, Duan Hill, 33, is currently charged with conspiracy and obstruction of justice. 

In a July 5 motion hearing, Turner’s attorney, Michael Madden, brought up a motion to suppress evidence found in Turner’s vehicle and two cell phones found at the time of his arrest. 

Madden said the police did not have the right to seize the vehicle after Turner withdrew his consent. He also argued there is not enough evidence to indicate that Turner was the target of the shooting because someone else was in Turner’s car. 

“Anything obtained in the vehicle is illegal and should be suppressed,” Madden said. 

A detective also testified that Turner was the suspected victim in a shooting on March 8, 2017, on the 4400 block of South Capitol Street, NE. He originally consented to his car being searched but later withdrew his consent. Turner’s car was then seized and searched after the detective on the case obtained a search warrant. 

According to the detective, a firearm was found in the locked glove box during the search of the car. At that point, the detective said, police stopped the initial search and proceeded to obtain a second search warrant for the firearm.

“All steps along the way the police acted reasonably,” the prosecutor said. 

According to the detective, MPD executed an arrest warrant for Turner at a hotel on March 11, 2017, around 3 a.m. During that time, MPD found and seized two cellphones, one located on a bed and the other in Turner’s jacket. 

According to body camera footage, the phone on the bed can be seen within the first 30 seconds of MDP arriving. 

Madden argued that the phone is not relevant to the charge the arrest warrant was for, which is possession of a firearm. Madden also argued the seizure does not fall under the plain view doctrine because another cell phone in the hotel room, not belonging to Turner, was not seized.  

At the time of his arrest, Turner asked for more clothes as he was only wearing a tank top and shorts. MPD found a second phone when searching the clothing they were giving Turner. 

Madden said Turner did not pick out or specifically ask for the jacket, the jacket was not near Turner, and he wasn’t wearing the jacket at the time of the offense. 

Judge Demeo announced that she would make her ruling on the motions on July 22 when the hearing is set to continue. 

Another detective was tasked with investigating Hall’s homicide, when Jennings name appeared in the police database as accessing information relating to the case. 

The prosecution began showing footage of a non-custodial interview with Jennings. According to the detective, Jennings consented to be interviewed, never asked to leave, was offered food and drink, and was allowed to keep her possessions. 

“You are free to go, you are free to walk out this door at any time,” the detective said during the interview. 

The video shows Jennings consenting to having her phone examined and signing a consent form. 

DC Superior Court Judge Marissa Demeo scheduled the motion hearing to continue on July 22.

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