Judge Says Juvenile ‘is the Person Who Killed Jihad Darden’

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DC Superior Court Judge James Crowell pronounced a juvenile defendant guilty of seven charges in connection to a homicide at a May 21 hearing.

“This killing was nothing short of an assassination,” Judge Crowell proclaimed, adding “the shooter returned seemingly to ensure [the victim] was dead,” as depicted in surveillance footage.

The juvenile, a 16-year-old boy who was 15 at the time of the incident, was originally charged with first-and-second-degree murder while armed, assault with intent to murder while armed, assault with intent to kill while armed, carrying a pistol without a license, possession of an unregistered firearm, unlawful possession of ammunition, and unlawful discharge of a firearm. 

He was charged in connection to the fatal shooting of 27-year-old Jihad Darden on Dec. 18, 2023, on the 5400 block of Illinois Avenue, NW. 

Throughout the trial, prosecutors presented surveillance footage that depicted the shooter’s whereabouts leading up to and following the shooting, witness testimony that identified the juvenile’s actions in the week leading up to the murder, and cell site data that ultimately honed in on the juvenile’s location at the time of the incident. 

However, Judge Crowell warned the parties he had not considered the cell site data for the finding of facts ruling, stating that the prosecution had failed to present an expert witness that could verify the locations to be accurate. 

Judge Crowell also explained he considered the defense’s argument that the juvenile’s friend or brother could be the shooter, but ruled that it was not possible based on the shooter’s description. “The young age of the shooter,” the judge claimed, was visible in multiple surveillance videos. 

According to Judge Crowell, the shooter’s distinctive clothing, which was partially recovered from the defendant’s home, and he was seen wearing at school in the week leading up to the murder, shows “the person who was seen fleeing the scene is clearly [the defendant].”

Judge Crowell recalled a Prince George’s County Assistant Principal’s testimony, in which he told the court that the juvenile had been absent on the day of the incident, as well as multiple days the prior week. 

“[The defendant] is the person who killed Jihad Darden,” Judge Crowell ruled, finding him guilty of all charges, except carrying a pistol without a license. 

As part of the conviction, the court ordered psychiatric and psychoeducational evaluations, as well as a violence risk assessment, to assist in the sentencing. 

Parties are slated to return June 20. 

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