Jury finds Davon Peyton guilty of involuntary manslaughter

A two-week long homicide trial came to a close Feb. 16 when a jury found Davon Peyton guilty of involuntary manslaughter and related weapons charges for the fatal shooting of 21-year-old Ray Andre Harrison.

According to the Metropolitan Police Department, Peyton, 27, shot Harrison on the 1300 block of Adams Street, NE on Nov. 13, 2015. Peyton was initially charged with second-degree murder while armed. The trial officially started on Feb. 5.

Assistant United States Attorneys Jennifer Fischer and Katie Earnest opened their case by claiming that Peyton shot Harrison in a fit of rage.

In the prosecution’s opening statement Fischer said Harrison and his girlfriend, along with his girlfriend’s friend, drove to Peyton’s house in the early morning hours.

The incident allegedly happened when Harrison knocked on Peyton’s 7-year-old daughter’s window, provoking him to answer the door with a loaded gun. From there, a verbal altercation turned physical and Harrison punched Peyton.

Peyton’s ex-girlfriend, who also lived in the residence, testified that she never saw Peyton grab his gun on the night of the homicide, but the prosecution presented video clips from MPD that showed the ex-girlfriend telling police that Peyton grabbed his gun after seeing someone at the window. The ex-girlfriend also signed off on a police report that stated she “witnessed Peyton shoot Harrison.”

The prosecution also called Harrison’s girlfriend to the stand.

According to the girlfriend, her best friend came into town for a surprise visit and met Harrison that night. She said they wanted to show her a good time, so they decided to go to Peyton’s house to get marijuana.

Harrison’s girlfriend said that he called Peyton “at least two times” before they decided to go to his residence, but Peyton never answered the phone.

According to phone records, Harrison called twice after midnight, but both calls were ignored. The records also showed that Peyton made outgoing calls after he ignored Harrison’s calls.

The girlfriend said, when Peyton answered the door, the men got into an argument. She said she heard Harrison tell Peyton to calm down before she heard a gunshot.

Earnest played the girlfriend’s 911 call for the jury. Peyton is heard in the background telling Harrison’s girlfriend to give the wrong address to the dispatcher. In addition to the 911 call, the prosecution also played a voicemail that Peyton’s girlfriend left for him while she was talking to detectives. In the voicemail, she told Peyton that he “needs to make better decisions.” Earnest said the voicemail showed Peyton acted intentionally when he shot Harrison.

The prosecution stated that after the shooting, Peyton fled the scene. Police located and arrested Peyton one week later on Nov. 21, 2015, at another girlfriend’s house. Police also found the gun stashed under a pile of clothes in a closet in the house.

Joseph Wong and Matthew Davies, Peyton’s attorneys, laid out a different scenario in their opening statement.

According to the defense, Peyton didn’t try to kill or hurt Harrison, instead Peyton was jolted awake by someone banging on his daughter’s window in the middle of the night and grabbed his gun for protection.

The defense said Harrison began assaulting Peyton at his doorstep, and Peyton’s gun went off accidentally. Peyton’s DNA was found under Harrison’s nails.

“This was not a murder,” Wong told the jury. “This was a tragic accident.”

The defense presented evidence that, at the time of the altercation, Harrison was intoxicated.

The defense also emphasized that Peyton’s ex-girlfriend told the police that he “didn’t mean to” shoot Harrison and that the shooting was an accident.

On Feb. 13, Peyton took the witness stand to claim once again that Harrison was shot accidentally.

Peyton testified that he had a “business” relationship with Harrison, and that he would often provide Harrison with marijuana in exchange for rides.

According to Peyton, Harrison became defensive and angry and began assaulting him while at his apartment. After being punched in the face, Peyton said his gun went off by accident.

When he realized Harrison had been shot, Peyton said he tended to Harrison and instructed those around him to call 911.

“I feel horrible,” said Peyton. “I didn’t mean for him to die. It wasn’t supposed to go like that.”

Davies said everything Peyton did on the night of the altercation was in reaction to Harrison.

The defense claimed Peyton “woke up to a parent’s worst nightmare” when he heard banging on his 7-year-old daughter’s window in the middle of the night.

However, when Earnest presented the prosecution’s closing argument, she stated that Peyton’s testimony was illogical.

According to Earnest, self-defense is not applicable for Peyton because he made the conscious decision to grab a loaded gun and go through two sets of locked doors instead of calling the police.

“Peyton saying ‘I’m sorry’ doesn’t bring Ray Harrison back,” said Earnest. “Saying ‘I’m sorry’ does not make Davon Peyton not guilty.”

The jury of nine women and three men deliberated for one day before convicting Peyton of involuntary manslaughter and related arms charges.

Peyton is scheduled to appear before Judge Danya Dayson on April 13 for sentencing.