Judge Denies Murder Defendant’s Motion to Attend Family Vacation

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DC Superior Court Judge Maribeth Raffinan denied a homicide defendant’s request on July 9 to attend a family vacation in South Carolina.

Desmond Gaskin, 38, is charged with second-degree murder while armed, possession of a firearm during a crime of violence, unlawful possession of a firearm by a prior convict, tampering with physical evidence, first-degree theft, and destruction of property, for his alleged involvement in the fatal shooting of 40-year-old William Whittington Jr. on July 19, 2022, at the 400 block of Burbank Street, SE. 

Judge Raffinan said she does not think “it is appropriate” given the charges in the case. 

In arguing for the request, Gaskin’s defense attorney Jason Tulley said Gaskin had been compliant with his pretrial release for a year-and-a-half without issues. He also said the court has previously had a track record of giving the defense less than they asked for, but Gaskin complied anyway. 

Pretrial Services did not oppose Gaskin going on this trip, stating that he could take his GPS off to go swimming. 

The prosecution objected to letting Gaskin attend the family gathering. Being compliant is expected, the prosecutor said. The prosecutor also had concerns with the distance to South Carolina and objected to the GPS being taken off. 

According to the prosecution, Gaskin, who previously tried to flee the area, was a flight risk. The night of the incident, he allegedly fled to Maryland and emptied one of his bank accounts, before taking a flight to Georgia. 

According to the prosecution, they have a still image of a person they claim is Gaskin, walking into the surveillance room where video evidence was destroyed. 

Tulley said he is “fed up” with the prosecution misconstruing facts. He claimed the still image is of a shadowy figure near a closed door, and there is no way to tell who it is or if they went into the room. 

Tulley also said the prosecution had a “fantastical claim” that the defendant is dangerous and a flight risk. 

Tulley told the court that the trip to Georgia was previously planned and not an effort to flee. He pointed out that Gaskin came back to Maryland within a week, where he was then arrested at his mother’s residence. 

Judge Raffinan asked about a previous conviction in 2008 for fleeing a law enforcement officer.

The defense told the judge the incident happened after a night out, and there was a dispute over whether he was the one driving or not.

Prosecution told the judge that the defendant’s probation was revoked in the conviction. 

Parties are set to reconvene Sept. 6. 

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