Jurors in a domestic violence trial began deliberating after hearing attorneys question the defendant and make their closing arguments.
The defendant is charged with cruelty to children, threat to kidnap or injure a person and simple assault. He is accused of attacking a woman outside a homeless shelter as she held their 18-day-old son in a car seat, injuring the baby in the process.
The last day of the trial on May 3 began with defense attorney Kevin Mosley finishing his direct examination of his client, asking questions about the altercation at the shelter.
The defendant said he was agitated because the woman took the phone they shared, and he wanted it back.
“She was being uncooperative,” he said. “She’s not giving me what I asked for.”
He said he reached to retrieve the phone from her jacket pocket when “she threw her body on me and stepped on my feet.” The woman tripped and fell when the defendant took his feet out from under her.
The defendant said he told her to stay down to keep the situation from getting out of hand, unaware his son was able to get out of the car seat.
“I’m trying to figure out why I drove from D Street to First Street without my son being strapped in,” he said.
The defendant admitted to getting into a physical altercation with the woman after seeing his son hit the ground from falling out of the car seat. He said he picked up the child and asked the woman why he was not strapped into the car seat.
Security footage presented in court shows the defendant picking up his son and handing him over to someone off-camera while he continued to interact with the woman.
The shared phone could be seen next to the car seat. The defendant picked the phone up and walked toward his vehicle. When the woman stood up, she could be seen swinging the empty car seat from hand to hand before walking in the direction of the defendant’s car.
“I was about to get in the car. I was instructed to bring his [the baby’s] bag with his diapers and formula to the building,” the defendant said. He said he would bring the bag to her so she would not have to go back to the car to get it.
“I didn’t want further interaction with her,” he said.
The defendant drove around the block and returned to the shelter. He wanted to stay but left when he found out the woman and child were going to the hospital.
The defendant was informed that Child Protective Services was getting involved. He went to the hospital, picked the woman and his son up and took them to the woman’s mother’s home.
Throughout his testimony, the defendant maintained that his son falling out of the car seat was an accident.
During cross-examination, prosecutors focused their questioning on the events leading up to the altercation. The defendant said the woman had been drinking since the morning. When he saw his son for the first time that day, he had a full diaper and had not been changed.
After the child fell from the car seat, the defendant allegedly threw the woman to the ground and eventually pulled out some of her hair. The prosecution says 22 seconds elapsed between the time the defendant picked his son up and when he threw the woman to the ground. They claim he did not look at his son once during that time.
“I was so mad at her that I wasn’t thinking about him,” he said.
Prosecutors argued that the defendant did not cradle his baby or make sure he was okay.
“I looked at his face when I picked him up; then he started crying,” the defendant rebutted.
Prosecutors asked the defendant if he kicked the woman.
“I kicked the ground beside her,” he responded. “I’m asking her why he wasn’t strapped into his car seat.”
In the video footage, the woman is seen crawling away from the defendant when he puts his hand on her head and pushes her down. The prosecution asked why he did not try to break her fall.
“How would I do that? How would that be possible?” he responded.
During re-direct examination, Mosley asked some more questions about how the altercation at the heart of this case played out.
“It was like one minute he was in the car seat and the next he was on the ground,” his client said.
The defendant said he was not sure what made the woman fall to the ground.
“I moved my feet, and she started falling,” he said. “I grabbed the first thing on her.”
After the parties rested, they gave closing arguments.
Prosecutors focused their arguments on the idea that the defendant engaged in conduct that created a grave risk of bodily harm, as the baby sustained bodily injury as a result. They said the security footage backs this up.
“[He] created a great risk for that child when he went up to her and attacked her,” one of the prosecutors said.
Prosecutors alleged that the defendant told the woman, “I’ll kill you, bitch” and told the jury the defendant admitted to assaulting the woman on the witness stand.
“The baby can’t speak for himself, but you can speak for him by finding [the defendant] guilty,” they concluded.
Mosley called what happened an accident. He claimed the woman was drunk from consuming alcohol all day, and the defendant did not get physical with her until he saw his son on the ground.
“He [the defendant] is not guilty of cruelty to children,” Mosley said.
Mosely argued that the prosecution relied on video footage and witness testimony to try and prove their case but alleged the witnesses were “willing to cure their story.”
Mosley concluded by telling the jury to take the emotions out of evaluating the evidence.
DC Superior Court Judge Rainey Brandt gave the jury their instructions and sent them to begin deliberating.