Judge Needs Time to Decide on Murder Defendant’s Release Request Amid Concerns Over Jail Conditions

A DC Superior Court judge needs more time to consider a murder defendant’s request for a release amid concern over the conditions at DC Jail.

Tondrick Murphy, 31, is charged with first-degree murder while armed in the shooting of 26-year-old Marquis Jones. On Oct. 6, 2018, Jones was found dead on the 2900 block of Martin Luther King Jr. Avenue, SE, having sustained multiple gunshot wounds.

Defense attorney Ronald Resetarits filed an emergency motion for immediate release due to “unsanitary, unsafe, and unconstitutional conditions of confinement.” During the Nov. 18 hearing, Resetarits said Murphy would not be “a present danger to the community under strict home confinement” and should be released. 

Judge Milton Lee said, “I’m not sure that the entire detention facility is of concern.” He said if an individual is currently in an unsatisfactory area of the jail, “it seems to be perfectly appropriate to move the individual to a different section of the jail that is not condemned.”

Resetarits said the problems at the jail are “pervasive, inhumane, and structural” and include “overpowering smells, toilets filled with feces, standing sewage, and water being shut off.”

Resetaris also said, “daily stabbings are occurring where [Murphy] was housed for a year-and-a-half.” After mentioning these stab victims are brought to Murphy’s unit to shower, the defense continued, “[Murphy] is having to clean up his shower just so he doesn’t have to shower in a pool of blood.”

Resetaris also noted the only reason Murphy is in that unit is because of COVID. Eventually, Murphy will be moved back to the unit where “daily stabbings are occurring.”

In addition to this, Resetarits said Murphy has a compelling self-defense case because Jones was found with a gun and a witness who testified before a grand jury said he heard Jones threaten Murphy minutes before the shooting.

The prosecution disagreed. “[Murphy] continues to shoot [Jones] when he’s down,” they said. “This is not a reasonable use of force.”

Judge Lee will schedule a hearing to discuss the defense’s motion for release once he has made a decision.

Murphy’s trial is scheduled to begin in April.