Shooting Defendant Acquitted of All Charges

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On Feb. 15, a non-fatal shooting defendant was acquitted of all charges in front of DC Superior Court Lynn Leibovitz. 

Jose Zuniga, 28, was charged with assault with a dangerous weapon, possession of a firearm during a crime of violence, and simple assault, for his alleged involvement in a non-fatal shooting incident which occurred on Nov. 11, 2023, at a shelter on the 400 block of 2nd Street, NW. There were no injuries reported. 

Throughout the trial, prosecutors attempted to prove Zuniga’s guilt by having eyewitnesses, including the victim, testify, with some identifying Zuniga as the shooter. They also presented various clips of surveillance footage from the shelter, including footage depicting an individual identified as Zuniga running across the lobby after shots were fired. 

However, one of the eyewitnesses stated that Zuniga was not the shooter, adding that the individual responsible for the shooting had been wearing a white puffer coat on the day of the incident. In the footage, Zuniga is seen wearing a white hoodie with images of Mickey Mouse on it. 

In an attempt to prove his innocence, Joseph Molina, Zuniga’s defense attorney, called him to testify. During his testimony, Zuniga stated that when the altercation began, he attempted to leave the location, but was challenged to a fight by the victim and his brother. He added that he and the victim got into a “struggle” in the hallway, before he was able to escape and seek help. 

While Zuniga admitted to threatening the victim’s brother with a drill, he ran from the second altercation when he saw a knife in the hand of the victim’s brother. According to Zuniga, he heard the first gunshot as he was running to hide. 

Zuniga claims the weapon was fired by an individual in a white puffer coat known as “El Mecanico,” who he saw during the second and third shot. Zuniga claims the video of him running across the shelter lobby was him “escaping.” 

Following a day of deliberations, the jury acquitted Zuniga of all charges, and he was released from jail. 

No further dates were set.

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