Judge Rejects Self-Defense Argument During Preliminary Hearing for Murder Case

A DC Superior Court judge ruled there is probable cause in a murder case.

Judge Dayna Dayson decided that there is enough evidence that 29-year-old William Davenport shot Leonard Turner, 27, on May 14 on the 1700 block of Trinidad Avenue, NE, during a Nov. 17 preliminary hearing. She also rejected the argument that Turner was killed in self-defense, citing how he was shot four times in the back.

Defense attorney Jacqueline Cadman previously argued that the shooter from the photos displayed by the prosecution was not clear enough to determine who the shooter was or if there was actually a gun in his hand. “The [prosecution] has not met the burden for finding probable cause,” Cadman said.

The prosecution, however, argued there is probable cause that the defendant is the shooter and intended to kill Turner. The prosecution said evidence suggests that Davenport’s phone was turned off during the murder. Cell site information tracked his location going from his mother’s house to a shelter, and then returning. The prosecution continued to argue there was no need for the defendant to go to the shelter because he didn’t live there.

The prosecution also argued against the notion of self-defense, saying Turner’s back was turned away from Davenport when he was shot and Turner did not have a gun on him.

The prosecutor argued Davenport is the shooter because the pictures were confirmed by a member of his family when she was shown images of the shooter during an interview at a police station.

A Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) detective took the stand, testifying as the lead detective on the case. The detective said he went to the residence of Davenport’s mother and asked to speak with her “in regards to an ongoing investigation.” During the investigation before the arrest, the police received two anonymous tips, one of which mentioned the type of car that the shooter had, an old taxi cab. He received a phone call from another officer who recognized the shooter as Davenport after viewing a “be on the lookout” notice.

Cadman noted no one has spoken to the people who sent in anonymous tips so there is no information on the basis of that knowledge, and the court can’t rely on anonymous tips. Two witnesses allegedly saw the shooting and provided a description of the person with the gun and he doesn’t align with the appearance of Davenport, Cadman said.

Judge Dayson agreed that both witnesses’ physical description was inconsistent. However, since there were four shots in the back of Turner, it shows he was not posing an immediate threat and there was no mitigation, Judge Dayson said. Judge Dayson was not sure he had a plan because he circled the block, but he did bring a gun with him. This logic was used when deciding between the probable cause for first or second-degree murder.

Judge Dayson found probable cause for first-degree murder.

The prosecution asked for the defendant to be held, but Cadman requested he be released into the High Intensity Supervision Program. Cadman said Davenport has three children and he’s not a danger to the community. He was cooperative to the arrest, is not a flight risk and his family supports him. Outlining the  “terrible” conditions in the jail, Cadman also said he is not receiving the medical treatment that he needs there.

Judge Dayson is holding Davenport out of interest in keeping the community safe and but will send a message to try to get him treatment for his medical needs.

The next hearing is scheduled for Nov. 22 to discuss any updates.