Judge Schedules Another Trial Readiness Hearing Due to DNA Testing Delays 

DC Superior Court Judge Marisa Demeo scheduled a second trial readiness hearing after delays with finalizing evidence. 

Leonard Smith, 36, is charged with first-degree murder while armed with a knife and carrying a dangerous weapon for allegedly stabbing 25-year-old Leonte Butler to death on March 11, 2017. According to court documents,  Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) officers discovered Butler with multiple stab wounds to the head and torso lying in an alley on the 4000 block of South Capitol Street, SE. He was pronounced dead at the scene. 

The case went to trial in November 2019, but it resulted in a mistrial.

At the July 12 hearing, the prosecution advised that it expects to receive DNA test results in the coming days despite being informed that the results would be ready by July 11. The prosecution tested swabs taken from blood stains in the alley where Butler was found and from Butler’s jacket.  

The defense is awaiting the results before potentially filing to independently test if the DNA test results do not implicate Smith. 

There is a video that has yet to be authenticated. Both parties indicated that they were attempting to locate the witness associated with the video but had made no recent developments. 

“We probably have to exhaust a few avenues before we ask for a court ruling on that,” defense attorney Anthony Matthews said. 

The prosecutor said he still had not found an answer as to whether or not an employee of the DC Department of Forensic Sciences (DFS) who processed the crime scene may have been terminated.

“I hope to have an answer in a few weeks,” the prosecutor said. 

“It sounds a bit odd,” Judge Demeo told the prosecutor. “There must be something else going on behind that… It shouldn’t take weeks to do it.” 

“I don’t know if this is a useful way to be using court time, ” Judge Demeo added. “Find the answer… This is not complicated and I don’t know why it isn’t.” 

The defense raised a concern that the lead detective assigned to the case has since been assigned to investigate vehicular fatalities, but the prosecution clarified that this move was not a demotion. 

Judge Demeo urged the attorneys to resolve any discovery matters as soon as possible. 

“I really need to know if this trial is going to go ahead as scheduled,” Judge Demeo said. 

The trial is currently scheduled to begin Sept. 28. Judge Demeo scheduled another trial readiness hearing for Aug. 5. 

Judge Demeo also granted the defense’s motion to allow Butler to take a four-day vacation to Ocean City, Md. because he has been in compliance with his release conditions since he was released a from a halfway house in March 2020.