A family member of a victim killed in a deadly hit-and-run expressed frustration over the slow speed of judicial proceedings as a homicide defendant sought more time to consider a plea deal.
Kyle Wooden, 34, is charged with two-counts of second-degree murder for his alleged connection to the May 31, 2021, vehicular collision that killed 82-year-old Donald Malloy and 79-year-old Mattie Young.
According to court documents, Wooden allegedly ran a red light on Bryant Street, NW and struck a Nissan Altima occupied by both victims with a Chevrolet Tahoe as the victims attempted to drive northbound onto North Capitol Street, NE. Wooden allegedly fled the scene after the crash but turned himself in the following day.
The plea deal would downgrade the second-degree murder charges to two counts of involuntary manslaughter and criminal negligence.
The defense said Wooden required more time to reach a final decision, referencing concerns with the sentencing range and the proposed charges.
“Based on the facts of this case, I thought this should have been negligent homicide rather than involuntary manslaughter,” defense attorney Jonathan Zucker said.
The defense wanted to proceed with a bench trial because of the “fine legal line,” but this request was denied by the prosecution.
“The plea deal is not changing, so his only options are to accept or reject it,” the prosecutor said.
The prosecution read a written statement from a son of one of the victim’s, who was in attendance, denouncing the protracted resolution of the case and accusing the defendant of intentionally delaying the trial while he suffers from “debilitating grief.”
“It has been simply too much for too long,” the statement read. “Enough is enough.”
Referencing obstacles with concurrent availability, Judge Maribeth Raffinan tentatively scheduled a jury trial for Jan. 30, 2024, in the event that Wooden rejects the plea deal. The prosecution estimated that the trial would last two weeks.
“I’m sure [this trial date] is not satisfactory,” Judge Raffinan told the family member. “There are delays in light of the pandemic and also in light of other issues in the case… We need to set it for that date.”
Judge Raffinan scheduled a Sept. 23 status hearing to give the defendant his final opportunity to accept or reject the plea deal. In the interim, Wooden will remain released under the high intensity supervision program.