Witnesses Speak of Pattern of Physical Abuse in Homicide Victim’s Relationship

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During a Sept. 20 jury trial, the prosecution called six witnesses to share their knowledge of footage and interactions with the defendant and victim. Several witness testimonies indicated a potential pattern of physical abuse within the defendant and victim’s relationship.

On July 24, 2020, 57-year-old Darnell Sterling was arrested and charged with murdering his 34-year-old girlfriend, Olga Ooro. Sterling was the last known person to see Ooro before she was reported missing, one week earlier.  

A former concierge of the Twelve12 apartment building, where Sterling lived, described a fight he saw between Sterling and Ooro on July 13, 2019. Earlier that evening, the concierge reported seeing the couple leave and return from an evening out, appearing “normal” and talkative both times. 

After receiving a noise complaint from one of Sterling’s neighbors of Sterling’s, the concierge found Sterling yelling at his girlfriend, insisting she leave his apartment. Ooro staunchly refused, adamant about collecting her belongings which had fallen from her purse and all over the floor. 

According to the concierge, Sterling repeatedly shut the door in attempts to drive his girlfriend out. Each time, she would jam her foot into the door, preventing it from closing fully.

The concierge described Ooro as bleeding from the nose and mouth, while her leg was “scabby and bleeding” from repeated scrapes by the door.

The prosecution called a patrol sergeant who arrested Sterling for assault after the July 13 incident. The sergeant’s body camera footage showed him speaking with a frenzied Sterling. Sterling revealed scratches on his neck where Ooro allegedly grabbed him while refusing to leave. 

The sergeant then compared the scratches to Ooro’s injuries, which landed her in an ambulance. The officer concluded that Sterling had assaulted Ooro, and she had fought back in self-defense. 

Although Sterling was later released from jail, he was given a stay-away order from Ooro.

During another officer’s testimony, body-cam footage showed Sterling in front of the apartment building. Sterling had contacted authorities after Ooro reportedly visited him at his apartment, breaching Sterling’s stay-away order. 

According to Sterling, Ooro kept begging him for money despite his repeated refusals. When Sterling became fed up, Ooro said “I’ll kill you” and attempted to stab him with a fork.

DC Superior Court Judge Maribeth Raffinan scheduled the trial to resume on Sept. 21.

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