Judges Hold 17 Percent of Domestic Violence Defendants from mid-June to September, Data Shows

From June 16 to Sept. 30, there were 448 domestic violence defendants presented during initial hearings at the DC Superior Court, in which 75 defendants were held.

Domestic Violence Holds & Releases

About 4 percent (19) of the 448 defendants were charged in felony domestic violence cases. Judges held about 47 percent (9) of those defendants. 

Data also shows that 429 of the 448 defendants had misdemeanor charges, of which about 18 percent (66) were held. One defendant’s case was dismissed and 372 were released.

Of the 41 defendants charged with simple assault, who were held, three were in the hospital at the time of their initial hearings. 

One of the domestic violence cases is for Seth Andrews, who is charged with first-degree murder in the death of 67-year-old Hazel Evans, his mother, on the unit block of 35th Street, SE on July 16. Andrews, 33, was arrested on Aug. 19 after a witness called the police, saying Andrews went back to his mother’s apartment and kicked down the door.

According to court documents, Andrews called the police to report the murder. 

“It’s my fault mommy, I’m sorry I didn’t want to kill you mommy, I’m sorry,” the defendant said during the 911 call.

An autopsy revealed that the victim’s injuries were consistent with strangulation.

Andrews is being held without bail.  His preliminary hearing is scheduled for Jan. 25, 2021.

Defendants who were most likely to be held were those charged with either contempt or assault with a dangerous weapon. Approximately 55 percent of all the defendants charged with contempt, during the time period, were held along with nearly 64 percent of assault with a dangerous weapon defendants.

There were also 17 reoffenders who appeared at initial hearings. Charges included, attempted threats to do bodily harm, contempt, simple assault, second-degree theft, destruction of property, unlawful entry, and weapon possession. 

About 53 percent of those reoffenders (9 defendants) were held.

A repeat offender whose initial hearing was on Sept. 5 was charged with simple assault, attempted possession of a prohibited weapon, and contempt for violating his conditions of release. 

Judge James Crowell said he held the defendant “to protect the victim’s life.”

The defendant, who stabbed the victim in the neck in September, pleaded guilty to simple assault on Oct. 1. 

He also pleaded guilty to simple assault in another case that he picked up in January. He was sentenced to 180 days for each simple assault charge, with the entire sentence being suspended along with one year of probation.

As part of his sentence, he is mandated to attend domestic violence intervention courses and was ordered not to assault, threaten, or stalk the victim. 

Approximately 43 percent (193 defendants), who were held and released, had multiple domestic violence charges filed. 

Cases Per Month

In July and August, the number of domestic violence cases during the initial hearings, which are also called presentments, remained relatively stable. There were 117 cases in July, and 126 cases in August. 

There was a 17 percent increase from August to September with 148 domestic violence cases, compared to an 8 percent increase from July to August. 

Charges

Simple assault was the most common domestic violence charge during initial hearings at the DC Superior Courthouse with 293 defendants picking it up.

Only two defendants, Andrews and Cory Brown, were charged with murder in a domestic violence case.

Cory Brown is charged with second-degree murder while armed for allegedly shooting his girlfriend, 40-year-old Latasha Estep, with a crossbow on the 1900 block of Good Hope Road, SE on Aug. 8.

According to court documents, a witness saw Brown, 39, outside his apartment on the 3000 block of Stanton Road, SE, holding a knife with a reddish-brown stain on his shirt. Responding Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) officers recognized Brown from a past domestic violence case, which involved the same victim. When MPD officers arrived at the victim’s apartment for a welfare check, they found Estep unconscious and unresponsive with multiple puncture wounds. She was pronounced dead on the scene.

A witness told officers that Brown had been using the victim’s car. After searching the vehicle, officers found a small pistol-grip style crossbow. 

Brown was held at his initial hearing in August. His case is pending a grand jury. 

Protective Orders

Most domestic violence defendants were issued court protective orders, including stay away orders, Temporary Protective Orders (TPO), Civil Protective Orders (CPO) and no harassing assaulting threatening or stalking (NO HATS) orders. 

Of the 448 defendants, 391 were issued protective orders, about 87 percent of all domestic violence defendants.

The remaining 55 defendants, who were released, were either ordered to abide by an existing protective order or not issued one.

During this period, 20 defendants were charged with violating a CPO, and 22 were charged with violating a TPO. One defendant was charged with violating a NO HATS order and simple assault. Of these defendants, ten were held at DC Jail. 

John Sullivan wrote this article.

Video by Andrea Keckley.