Prosecutor Seeks Answers on Forensic Errors in Murder Case

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A DC Superior Court judge reviewed forensic evidence relevant to a murder defendant’s motion to have his inditment dismissed. 

Ron McLeoud and his former co-defendant Joseph Brown are charged with first-degree murder while armed in the deaths of Amari Jenkins, who was found dead on Aug. 15, 2015, on the 4900 block of East Capitol Street, SE and Antwan Baker, who was found dead on the 5300 block Clay Terrace, NE.on Nov. 12, 2015. McLeoud, 27, was arrested in December of 2017.

The Aug. 21 hearing was scheduled because the prosecution was seeking more information about how the Department of Forensic Services (DFS) made an erroneous determination about ballistic evidence, which caused incorrect information to be presented to a grand jury. 

“It really comes down to not if information presented to the grand jury was incorrect but at what point that falsity was known or should’ve been known to the government,” Judge Todd Edelman said.

In a document opposing the defense’s dismissal motion, the prosecutor said he did not know how the former Department of Forensic Services (DFS) examiner came to the incorrect determination.

“I have a tremendous amount of concern over what’s happened in this case and we need to get to the bottom of it,” he said.

The prosecutor made a discovery request on June 12, which the DFS refused. 

The department questioned whether the prosecution has a right to the material being requested.

Robert Trout, the lawyer for DFS, said that the department’s internal workings should remain confidential. 

But, the prosecutor disagreed, calling it “propostureous” for a crime lab to say that “how they got from a – b is protected.”

Judge Edelman also disagreed with Trout. 

“They [DFS] only exist because of these cases,” he said.

Judge Edelman gave the prosecution until Sept. 2 to file a motion to mitigate privilege law so that he could access this information. The DFS has until Sept. 9 to respond to the prosecutor’s motion. 

McLeoud and Brown were indicted as co-defendants at one point. However, their cases went on to be severed.

At one point, the two homicide scenes were determined to be linked by ballistic evidence. That evidence was later discovered to be erroneous, but not until after the incorrect firearms testimony was presented to a grand jury, which prompted the defense’s motion. 

Defense attorney Steven Kiersh filed a motion to dismiss his client’s indictments based on the Introduction of false testimony in the grand jury and, alternatively, to require the prosecution  to give the defense counsel the entirety of the grand jury minutes on May 1.

In his motion, Kiersh argued that “regardless of whether the information was known at the time to be false when it was presented to the grand jury, the fact remains that the grand jury which returned the indictments was misled and defendant was extraordinary prejudiced by unchallenged testimony that has proven to be false.”

Kiersh later went on to write that McLeoud “has absolutely no means to cure the injustice of having a grand jury hear false and highly prejudicial ballistics evidence. Dismissal of the indictment is the only means to cure the injustice.”

This article was written by Andrea Keckley.

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