Parties Begin Homicide Trial With Detailed Opening Statements and Evidence for Jury

On Dec. 5, attorneys made their opening statements after DC Superior Court Judge Rainey Brandt swore in 16 jurors for a homicide trial.

Jermaine Harris, 21,  is charged with first-degree murder while armed in connection to the fatal shooting of 38-year-old Lamar Walters on the 2400 block of Franklin Street, NE on Jan. 6, 2020. According to court documents, a member of the Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) responded to the 2400 block of Franklin Street where an adult male was located. The victim was unconscious and not breathing, suffering from apparent gunshot wounds to the body.

“Lamar Walters heard more than 70 gunshots as he ran for his life across the street,” the prosecutor said. “He fell to the ground and had to drag himself out of the street to keep from getting hit by the suspects who fled the scene.”

Walters was transferred to the Washington Hospital Center where he was later pronounced dead. Two other victims who suffered non-fatal wounds to the body were later identified at the hospital by members of MPD.

Walters’s autopsy report concluded that he suffered from four gunshot wounds in which two bullets were recovered from inside his body, another passed through his body.

“Harris and three of his friends fired over 70 shots at a bodega (grocery store),” the prosecutor said. “Harris and his friends are from the Landon Park neighborhood and they have ongoing ‘beef’ with the Saratoga neighborhood.” 

The prosecutor told the jury that Harris caused Walters’s death. He said the victim’s father arrived on the scene and watched his son die. “Because of that, he suffers from mental health issues,” the prosecutor said. 

According to the prosecution’s theory, the defendant and other suspects drove a white Toyota Camry. The car was linked to several sets of fingerprints, including Harris’ prints. 

“A 9-millimeter shell casing was found in the car under the driver’s seat that was matched with the casings found on the scene. A laser attachment was also found and a possible DNA sample of Harris on the battery inside of it,” the prosecutor said.

There were no eyewitnesses to the crime. 

According to the prosecutor, the Toyota Camry the suspects used was towed on Jan. 7 because it had an invalid parking permit and the car was stolen from Maryland.

According to the prosecutor, Harris’ Instagram account indicated that he was at another suspect’s house, located in the apartment complex where the car was found. 

“We will be calling a sergeant from the Metropolitan Police Department who looked over the surveillance from the neighborhood and identified Harris from his walk, hair, and his height,” the prosecutor said. 

Defense attorney Jonathan Zucker said the case lacked any evidence. 

“I do not fear the prosecutor’s evidence, and it shall lead to my client’s acquittal at the end of the trial. The only thing that I do fear may offend you, but it’s the prejudice in this trial.” Zucker said.

He urged the jury to make clear-minded, unbiased decisions. 

“I believe a man hears what he wants to hear and you should know my colleagues have no witnesses, film, video, or ballistics to prove anything other than a shooting occurred and Walters, unfortunately, lost his life,” Zucker said.

Zucker told the jury that the prosecution would show photos of Harris posing as a gangster with a lot of money and a gun, but those photos of him were never taken at the time of the scene,  Zucker said.

“It is impossible someone could have gotten into that car before the shooting,” Zucker said. “There were three people seen, on surveillance, getting into the white Toyota Camry 45 minutes before the shooting. The prosecutors identified there were four shooters so they had to stop somewhere to retrieve the fourth shooter.” 

The prosecution’s first witness, a sergeant for the MPD who was called to the scene on Jan. 6 identified the evidence on the scene and in the surrounding area.

In a video, Walters is seen, along with the two living victims, standing in front of the bodega, ducking and running away. The video also displayed Walters falling to the ground and then scooting himself out of the street.

The video captured smoke and shadows coming from the side of the bodega and Walters collapsing.

During cross-examination, Zucker got the sergeant to confirm that police were unable to identify anyone as a shooter.

Zucker questioned another detective about another white Camry entering the street where the suspect’s Camry was allegedly parked. Zucker wanted to know if they followed up with the car.

The sergeant said the police never did. 

“He was my heart and my soul.,” the victim’s father said. “We did a lot together like a monster truck and air shows, picnics… everything.”

Zucker crossed examined and asked questions about the photo his father displayed of Walters and asked if he had a more recent photo of him. The answer was no.

Zucker also asked if he knew why Walters was at the store that day. The father said he didn’t know why.

The girlfriend and mother of one of the other victim’s children.

The witness said she was in the car when the shooting occurred, and she didn’t know it happened because she was on the phone making a doctor’s appointment because she was pregnant at the time.

The prosecutor asked her what happened after the shooting. She said she drove both of the victims to the hospital because they knew each other, but she didn’t know the other victim.

When asked if she spoke with the MPD, the witness preceded to plead the fifth.

“It’s a straightforward question, and I would ask you to answer it,”  Judge Brandt said. The witness indicated she did speak with MPD.

A forensic technician who works for the Department of Forensic Science identified all of the bullet casings on the crime scene before Judge Brandt concluded court for the day.

The trial is scheduled to resume on Dec. 6.

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