Parties Relay Obstacles in Preparing Murder Case for Trial

Parties discussed multiple obstacles they encountered in a murder case that was set to go to trial in March.

Chad Hawthorne is accused of shooting 35-year-old Antonio Bassett to death on the 3900 block of Pennsylvania Avenue, SE, on May 22, 2017. The 41-year-old defendant is indicted on charges of second-degree murder while armed, possession of a firearm during a crime of violence and unlawful possession of a firearm with a prior conviction.

Jury selection for Hawthorne’s trial was set to begin on March 2, but during a Feb. 28 hearing, the prosecution said they encountered issues with witnesses and ballistic evidence that may hold them back from being ready for trial.

The prosecutor said they received something by mail regarding ballistic evidence from the defense counsel’s expert but couldn’t articulate the contents and were unable to test it again with their preferred experts.

“The man knows what he’s doing,” said defense attorney Steven Keirsh of this expert, who he said he has been working with for a long time.

Towards the end of the hearing, defense counsel brought in multiple witnesses to be formally told they have a legal obligation to testify in trial. Judge Marisa Demeo explained to these witnesses what a subpoena is and their responsibilities in the trial. 

Judge Demeo filed a material witness warrant for two witnesses who failed to appear after being reminded and contacted to attend. One officer who is supposed to testify in the trial also failed to show up but no warrant was issued. 

The trial is no longer scheduled for its previously intended date. A trial readiness hearing is set for March 4.

The prosecutor requested that the defense be precluded from alluding in the trial that there may have been more than one shooter. Judge Demeo denied this request.