Defendant Accused of Murdering 11-Year-Old Takes the Stand at Trial

The man accused of murdering 11-year-old Karon Brown one summer evening in Naylor Gardens took to the witness stand to testify in his own defense at trial. 

The defendant, Tony McClam, is charged with first-degree murder while armed in Brown’s shooting. 

While parties agree that McClam shot at a vehicle on July 18, 2019, the defense asserts that he did so because he thought the driver intended to attack him. Defense attorney Jason Tulley has argued that, due to his vision problems, McClam did not know Brown was in the car. When Tulley called his client to the witness stand during the Dec. 16 proceedings, he testified that he lost sight in his left eye and can’t see well in his right one. McClam said he was not wearing glasses at the time of the shooting. 

Both parties showed scenes from the events leading up to the shooting in the surveillance footage they admitted into evidence. Tulley presented a clip of what appeared to be kids fighting. McClam said he had tried to talk to the kids but eventually decided to go home.  

McClam said he was not angry during the day’s events. But during his cross-examination, one of the prosecutors in this case showed surveillance footage of McClam appearing to pursue some kids in what the prosecutor described as “following, charitably.” The kids can later be seen getting onto a bus. 

McClam said that after he decided to go home another man asked him to accompany him to talk to the kids. McClam said he agreed to go with him, but wasn’t planning on doing anything since he had already talked to the kids. He said the other man was angry with the kids during the interaction that followed but he was not. McClam said he tried to offer his input during the confrontation but the other man kept telling him to shut up.

The prosecution emphasized McClam’s decision to have a gun on him. “I always take a gun,” McClam said.

The driver of the vehicle involved in the shooting said he saw Brown running away from two young kids and two adults, according to court documents. He said it appeared the child was getting jumped so he and the other witness in the vehicle agreed to give Brown a ride. The witness said he heard gunshots, turned around and saw Brown appearing to be bleeding from the head in the back seat.

During direct examination, McClam said an individual in the car looked like they were reaching for a gun, and he thought a drive-by shooting was about to happen. He said he’s seen a drive-by before in the news media and on YouTube.

While being questioned by one of the prosecutors in this case, McClam seemingly struggled to remember what he said earlier to his lawyer about how many people he noticed were in that vehicle. But he maintained he did not see the child and is  “so sorry” for what happened now that he knows Brown was in there.

The defense said the children in the surveillance footage from the bus appeared to be smiling and laughing. When asked about it by his attorney, McClam said he wasn’t sure if the kids were laughing at him. The prosecutor later asked McClam if he shot Brown because Brown had laughed at him. But McClam did not answer the question because DC Superior Court Judge Neal Kravitz sustained Tulley’s objection to it.

Both parties dug into McClam’s past while questioning him. Tulley highlighted McClam’s past work with children. McClam said he used to make money around the Safeway, BP gas station and CVS on Alabama Avenue in Southeast, DC. He said that while he worked alone at first he eventually began working alongside some kids.

While the jury was outside the courtroom, the prosecutor questioned the relevance of the photos the defense wanted to show of McClam with children. Judge Kravitz let Tulley choose one, allowing it to be a different photo than the one he showed during his opening arguments.

The prosecutor also noted apparent lies McClam told in the past. This included video footage of McClam telling an officer he has no priors when, according to court documents, he does have a history of misdemeanors.

The prosecutor also noted how McClam refused to disclose the location of the gun to police. 

During the investigation into the homicide, McClam said he bought the gun in North Carolina where he maintains a residence despite living in the District, according to court documents. A member of the Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) previously testified that she looked up if McClam had a license to carry a pistol in DC and found that he did not. 

Judge Kravitz is allowing the jury to consider lesser homicide charges of second-degree murder and manslaughter. McClam is also charged with possession of a firearm during a crime of violence, assault with intent to kill while armed and carrying a pistol without a license outside a home or business in this case.

The trial proceedings are set to resume on Dec. 17.

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