Judge Finds Probable Cause for Murder Case

A DC Superior Court judge ruled that a murder case has enough evidence to go to trial and held the defendant at DC Jail.

Michael Austin is charged with second-degree murder while armed for allegedly shooting 26-year-old Kayvon Kinney on the 1800 block of Gainesville Street, SE on May 24. 

The preliminary hearing lasted over the course of two days. During the first day, Sept. 17., the prosecution presented video footage that shows a group of people arguing and then going inside a building on the day of the murder. Later gunshots are heard in the video.

A man, who authorities say is Austin then ran to his car and fled the scene. 

The Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) recovered eight shell casings from the scene. All casings were from the same firearm. However, MPD did not recover a firearm. 

The lead MPD detective said that one of Kinney’s close friends, who is one of the witnesses, said that Austin and Kinney were arguing and Austin shot Kinney. Kinney was allegedly the instigator and the aggressor of the argument based on the detective’s interview with the witness. 

Another witness said he heard gunshots. According to the detective, the witness did not interact with Austin or Kinney. 

Defense attorney Leo Alley asked the detective, “aside from what witness told you, do you have any reason to believe there was conflict between witness and any other party in this case?” The detective answered, “no.”

Austin was arrested in Atlanta, Georgia on a warrant for murder weeks later. According to the defense, the judge in Atlanta released Austin on July 2, he then reported back to DC as instructed.

The detective also interviewed a witness that is close friends with the defendant. According to the detective, the witness said she also heard gunshots but was inside of her apartment grabbing her phone. 

The witnesses’ phone was searched. One of the messages read “…he was all in [another witness] face and pushing Mikey.” Mikey was identified as Michael Austin. 

The prosecution argued that there was enough evidence to find probable cause. 

“Based on witness one’s interview with the police, the decedent is the only one arguing with the defendant and gunshots are heard in the video,” said the prosecution. “The eight casings were found from the same weapon which indicated one shooter. It’s telling that the defendant is running to his vehicle after the gunshots and essentially speeds away. The defendant leaves the DMV that night and makes no contact with his family until he gets arrested in Georgia.” 

However, Alley argued that the prosecution was basing their findings on “thin circumstantial evidence.”

“The fact that he left the area is a natural reaction to hearing gunshots,” said Alley. “The decedent was extremely intoxicated and the witnesses said that the decedent was the aggressor. We also know that there was a second person in the courtyard who walked to the scene of the crime and up the stairs afterward.”

Judge Neal Kravitz found probable cause. Austin fleeing the scene after the shooting was a big reason why. Judge Kravitz also said that the circumstantial evidence shows that Austin was the one most engaged in the arguments with Kinney. 

Alley asked if his client could be released into the High Intensity Supervision Program (HISP) because he turned himself in upon learning of his arrest warrant.

Judge Kravits denied the request because of the violent nature of the offense. 

Judge Kravits scheduled Austin’s next hearing for Dec. 1.