Judge Denies Acquittal Motion in Haltiwanger Murder Trial

DC Superior Court Judge Rainey Brandt dismissed an acquittal motion in the murder trial of Shaka Haltiwanger on March 15 setting the stage for the defendant to testify on his own behalf.

Haltiwanger, 23, is charged with second-degree murder while armed, possession of a firearm during a crime of violence while armed, possession of a large capacity ammunition feeding device while armed, and carrying a pistol without a license outside a home or business. 

Prosecutors rested their case Wednesday, and the jury is expected to begin deliberations on  Monday. However, Haltiwanger’s attorney, Wole Falodun, said his client wants to explain what happened first. 

Haltimanger said he acted in self-defense. 

In her ruling Judge Brandt said the evidence presented by the prosecutors shows Haltiwanger murdered Kelly.  She noted that in addition to physical and DNA evidence linking Haltiwanger to the Sept. 10, 2021, shooting of Anthony Kelly, an eyewitness said, “She saw Mr. Haliwanger shoot Mr. Kelly.” 

“Mr. Haltiwanger acted in disregard of extreme risk of injury” to Kelly, Brandt said

According to court documents, the incident began as an argument between Haltiwanger and Kelly in an apartment on the 1400 block of 29th Street, SE.  In the ensuing struggle prosecutors say Haltiwanger pulled a pistol out of his backpack and shot Kelly.  The victim died on the scene from a single bullet wound in the back.

In the trial’s morning session, a deputy medical examiner from the District of Columbia used graphic photos of Kelly’s body to describe the extent of his fatal injuries.  Testifying for the prosecution, the medical examiner showed a picture of a bullet hole in Kelly’s back where the bullet entered and a larger exit wound on his chest.  The medical examiner said Kelly died from massive blood loss as the bullet pierced his heart and lungs. 

Falodon pressed the medical examiner about whether she could say exactly how close the shooter was to the victim based on bullet residue on the body. The witness said the fatal shot was probably fired from at least three feet away. 

Falondun also noted that the autopsy report incorrectly identified the location of a bruise on Kelly’s arm.  The witness said the error was a “typo” that was corrected in a later report.

Follow this case