Judge Releases Murder Defendant Under Supervision Program During Preliminary Hearing

DC Superior Court Judge Rainey Brandt agreed to release a defendant from DC during the third day of a preliminary hearing over the prosecution’s objection. 

Howard Fritts, 55, is charged with first-degree murder while armed in connection to the fatal shooting of 46-year-old Charlie Miller in the 900 block of Ninth Street NW on May 29. Miller suffered a single gunshot wound to the head and abrasions to his elbows, knees, and face to include a laceration to the forehead. Despite life-saving efforts, Miller succumbed to his injuries less than an hour after the incident.

The preliminary hearing spanned over three days and concluded with Judge Brandt making a finding of probable cause. 

On July 6, defense attorney Jacqueline Cadman and William Alley argued for Fritts to be released into home confinement under the high intensity supervision program. 

Cadman said Fritts has reconnected with his family, and they want to help him get back on his feet. 

“Thankfully he has a family to help him,” Cadman told the Court. “He has a reason to stay clean.”

Judge Brandt noted Fritts’ non-violent criminal history and released the defendant under the conditions that he wear an ankle monitor and he’s not allowed to leave the house unless there is a medical emergency or he’s meeting with his lawyers. Additionally, Fritts has been ordered to stay away from three homeless encampments. 

“Mr. Fritts does not deserve to be locked up pending his date with justice,” Judge Brandt said. “When there are other defendants who do because they’re violent.”

The court also found that Fritts did not shoot the victim but acted in concert with the other unknown suspect when Fritts attempted to steal the victim’s phone. 

“The evidence tends to point to another person being the shooter,” Judge Brandt said. 

The MPD is conducting an ongoing investigation regarding the unknown shooter.