Judge Won’t Dismiss Shooting Case After Victim Fails to Testify at Trial

At a Sept. 14 jury trial, DC Superior Court Judge Maribeth Rafinan denied a request by Dominic Copeland‘s defense to drop all charges against him because a witness failed to appear.

Copeland, 33, is charged with assault with intent to kill while armed, aggravated assault knowingly while armed, robbery while armed, unlawful possession of a firearm, and three counts of possession of a firearm during a crime of violence for his alleged involvement in a non-fatal shooting on the unit block of N Street, NW, on April 26, 2019. The incident left one individual suffering from life-threatening injuries.

Artie Byrd, 31, is charged as accessory after the fact for his alleged involvement in assisting Copeland leave the scene.  

The victim, who was supposed to testify didn’t appear. As a result, the defense wanted the case dismissed and the prosecution wanted the trial to be pushed back to Sept. 18 to locate the victim and bring him to court. 

Judge Raffinan denied the request said there was no cause to postpone the proceeding.

According to the prosecution an apparent drug deal gone wrong in the parking lot of a Wendy’s on New York Avenue, resulted in a shooting. The victim offered cash and Copeland allegedly kept the money but failed to deliver the drugs.

In an attempt to get his money back, the victim fought with Copeland who then allegedly pulled a gun.  He shot at his car as the victim tried to get away swerving off the road hitting a light pole. 

Byrd then allegedly pulled up in a white Toyota Camry and he and Copeland fled. 

“The only verdict that the evidence demands is that of guilt for the shooting and robbing,” the prosecutor said.

The first witness, a former Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) officer, testified he found the victim motionless by his driver’s side door. However, he said no physical evidence was recovered from the vehicle. A witness, who processed the crime scene, said he saw cracked glass on the Toyota’s windshield from gunfire and noticed that one of the back windows was shattered. 

Another prosecution witness said he let Byrd borrow his white Toyota Camry because Byrd needed to handle a family issue and that it was not unusual for the witness to loan out the vehicle. He was later told by police that his car was used to commit a crime.

Still, another witness to the incident, testified he saw what appeared to be a Black man in a dark shirt and dark pants getting into a white car. He followed the car while on the phone with a 911 operator.

Parties are expected back Sept. 18. 

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