Prosecution Questions Defense Attorney’s Ability to Provide ‘Proper Representation’

Thank you for reading D.C. Witness. Help us continue our mission into 2024.

Donate Now

Prosecutors requested DC Superior Court Judge Marisa Demeo appoint independent counsel in a homicide case, citing ineffectiveness by the Public Defender Service (PDS) during a June 20 hearing. 

Kenneth Stewart, 62, is charged with first-degree murder while armed and assault with a dangerous weapon for his alleged involvement in the fatal stabbing of Courtney Jones, 54. The incident took place on July 23, 2020, on I-295 southbound, just prior to the Pennsylvania Avenue exit.

According to the prosecution, there has been a lack of client communication between Stewart and his attorneys, Dominique Winters and Theodore Shaw, which is infringing on the defendant’s right to a speedy trial. The prosecutor said the defense is not prioritizing the case.

Additionally, the prosecution argued that the defense does not want independent counsel for Stewart as it would hurt Winters’ reputation. The prosecutor said the defense is acting in its own self interest.  

According to a motion to continue the trial, filed by the defense, on June 16, Winters acknowledges that she did not meet with her client between the dates of July 2020 and July 2022. She cites the pandemic, living in Georgia for those two years, difficulty to obtain medical records, and the PDS staff shortage as reason why she could not meet with Stewart.

The defense is also trying to hire an independent PTSD expert to evaluate Stewart.

Laura Hankins, PDS’ general counsel, told Judge Demeo that independent counsel is not necessary as it would create “arbitrary interference” and interfere with Stewart’s Sixth Amendment rights. 

Judge Demeo requested additional time to make a ruling, citing the need to review prior cases, and granting the parties the opportunity to submit their arguments in writing. 

Parties are slated to return Aug. 9.

Follow this case