Jury Finds Defendant Guilty of 2016 Homicide

After a few hours of deliberation, a defendant was found guilty of fatally shooting a 35-year old man in 2016.

On April 4, a jury found 27-year old Andre Becton guilty of first-degree murder while armed and two gun-related offenses. Darnell Peoples was killed on the 600 block of Mellon Street, SE.

An eyewitness, who testified on behalf of the prosecution, said she was on Mellon Street that night looking to buy crack-cocaine. She said she ran into her friend and drug-dealer, Darnell Peoples, who was high on PCP, a mind-altering drug. The witness said Peoples was acting unusual and “loving.”

According to the witness, Peoples crossed Mellon Street and approached a group of individuals gambling. Apparently, Peoples made a homophobic comment about the individuals, who were hunched over with their butts sticking out.

The prosecution said it was at this point that Becton became angry, started cursing and told Peoples to leave.

The witness told the jury that she saw Peoples pull Becton in what looked like a “hug,” and the two men began to tussle over a gun. The witness said she then saw “downward shooting.” She also identified the tag number of a red vehicle that the shooter drove away in.

“He shot at someone who was not aggressive. He shot at someone who was not armed,” the prosecution said during closing arguments.

The prosecution also said there was no evidence of self-defense.

When detectives questioned Becton about the incident, he initially denied feeling threatened by Peoples. Becton also said he did not shoot the victim.

However, Becton’s defense attorney, Jeffrey Stein, claims Becton felt threatened and acted in self-defense after being “grabbed” by Peoples. Stein said his client fired one shot, and when Peoples wouldn’t let go, he fired again.

Court documents state that Peoples was shot once in the hip and then in the neck.

“Mr. Becton was defending himself after the decedent attacked him,” Stein told the jury. “He didn’t intend to kill him.”

Stein said his client lied to detectives about his involvement because he was scared he was going to get in trouble. Stein said Becton didn’t know that self-defense was a legal claim.

D.C. Witness previously reported that Peoples told police, minutes before he died, that his shooter was “wearing all-black everything.” He then identified his shooter as “Dre, from Trenton Park.”

“He thought he could outsmart the law,” the prosecution said. “He never thought the decedent was going to identify him.”

Read D.C. Witness’s coverage on the entire case, here.