Judge Finds Substantial Probability in Murder, Sex Abuse Case

A DC Superior Court judge found substantial probability in a 2020 murder case, calling a guilty verdict, “very likely.” 

Bratrell Hawkins is charged with first-degree murder while armed, two counts of second-degree sex abuse, assault with a dangerous weapon, carrying a pistol without a license outside a home or business and possessing a firearm during a crime of violence. The 28-year-old defendant is accused of shooting 25-year-old Xavier Tate on the 1400 block of 3rd Street, SW, on Jan. 5, 2020. He is also accused of sexually assaulting a woman while she was asleep at the same address on the same day.

Judge Neal Kravitz‘s finding of substantial probability is a higher standard than probable cause, the standard for determining if a case has enough evidence to go to trial.

Parties attended the Nov. 2 preliminary hearing remotely over WebEx. Hawkins is currently being held at St. Elizabeths Hospital, DC’s psychiatric institution. 

Defense attorney Pierce Suen argued for his client’s release and cited questions over the credibility of the prosecution’s key witness. But the prosecution argued Hawkins would pose a danger to the community due to the alleged offenses involving multiple victims.

Judge Kravitz denied Suen’s release request. He also denied the prosecution’s request to have Hawkins transferred from the hospital to DC Jail.

The case is scheduled to go to trial on March 1.

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