Parties Prepare for April Murder Trial

A DC Superior Court judge reviewed multiple motions in a murder case as parties gear up to go to trial next month.

Tondrick Murphy, 31, is charged with first-degree murder while armed in the shooting of 26-year-old Marquis Jones. During the early hours of Oct. 6, 2018, Jones was found dead on the 2900 block of Martin Luther King Jr. Avenue, SE, after sustaining multiple gunshot wounds. 

According to a defense motion, Jones allegedly robbed, pistol-whipped and threatened to kill Murphy in the days leading up to the homicide. The defense alleges that in the moments proceeding the shooting, Jones was threatening to “f*** up” the defendant while appearing to hold a gun. The prosecution alleges that Murphy approached Jones while he was on the phone and fired at him as Jones lifted his empty left hand to his head.

During the most recent hearing for this case on March 8, the defense counsel said they plan to call a behavioral health clinical specialist who has been working closely with Murphy to speak to the Post Traumatic Stress Disorder symptoms the defendant experienced before the shooting.

The prosecution objected to such testimony being included in the trial, wanting it excluded or at least limited. They argued that if the defense features this testimony in the way they currently plan to, they would be making a so-called diminished capacity defense, which has been rejected by the DC Court of Appeals.

Judge Milton Lee was unsure how this expert testimony would show self-defense without confusing the jury, saying it would be hard to explain the idea of objective versus subjective standards of reasonableness. He scheduled parties to continue discussing motions on April 4 and 5.

Jury selection for this case is scheduled to begin on April 11. Murphy has rejected the prosecution’s offer to plead out on a lesser charge of voluntary manslaughter while armed.