Judge Grants Homicide Defendant Additional Time for DNA Hearing

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On Feb. 28, DC Superior Court Judge Maribeth Raffinan did not conduct a hearing to determine how the defense intends to independently test for DNA evidence because of insufficient testing resources.

Eric Smith, 24, is charged with first-degree murder and murder while armed, assault with intent to kill while armed against a minor, and five counts of possession of a firearm during a crime of violence, among other charges, for his alleged involvement in the shooting of 38-year-old Rondell Wills on May 3, 2018, at the 200 block of 50th Street, NE. Smith allegedly shot Wills in a drive-by shooting.

Smith’s defense attorney, David Knight, stated that Smith wants to exercise his right to DNA test evidence but is unable to do so, due to multiple labs denying their requests for testing because critical chemical components are not available.

“No accredited lab would do testing on those items,” Knight said. “Smith is not waiving [his right], he practically cannot do the thing he wants to do.” 

According to Knight, doing DNA testing on these items at an unaccredited lab would put Smith at a “disadvantage” when it came to trial. Upon the defense’s request, Judge Raffinan granted Knight more time to find a lab that could conduct the desired testing. 

The prosecution said they will be conducting firearm testing in this case by the end April. 

Judge Raffinan decided that she would not conduct a so-called IPA hearing or waive further discussion because the evidence could not yet be tested for DNA. 

Parties are slated to return on May 17. 

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