Judge Rules in Favor of Murder Defendant’s Self-Defense Claim

During a hearing March 19, a DC Superior Court judge ruled on multiple motions, including the defense’s right to claim their client acted in self-defense.

Andre Becton is charged with second-degree murder and two gun-related offenses for his alleged role in the death of 35-year-old Darnell Peoples on the 600 block of Mellon Street, SE in 2016.

After speaking with defense counsel under seal, Judge Juliet McKenna ruled Becton’s attorneys could use a self-defense claim during the trial, which is slated to begin with jury selection on March 20.

Judge McKenna later denied the defense’s request to suppress statements Becton, 27, gave to police during an interview in 2016, about a month after the murder. The judge said the defendant initiated contact with the lead detective and “voluntarily” arranged transport to the station. Based on the interview, Judge McKenna said any “reasonable” person would believe they could refuse to talk to the police.

The court also denied the defense’s request to suppress Peoples identification of the shooter. During the hearing, the officer who initially responded to the crime scene told the court Peoples identified Becton as his shooter prior to his death.

However, the defense noted that the officer’s body camera footage shows that when the officer asked the victim if he knew who the shooter was the victim shook his head in the negative. The defense also said there were multiple people near Peoples who could have told the victim who they thought the shooter was.

According to court documents, a witness told police Becton was playing craps, a dice game, with a group of individuals when Peoples approached and called the group homosexuals. Apparently, Peoples and Becton began fighting and that’s when the witness saw Becton pull out a silver gun and shoot Peoples.