March 6, 2017
[Copyrighted Material Omitted]
from the Superior Court of the District of Columbia
(CF1-8380-07), (Hon. Geoffrey M. Alprin, Trial Judge; Hon.
Michael Ryan, Motion Judge)
Benowitz, Washington, was on the brief for appellant.
D. Phillips, United States Attorney at the time the brief was
filed, and Elizabeth Trosman, Washington, John P. Mannarino,
Bernard Delia, Washington, and Jennifer B. Loeb, Assistant
United States Attorneys, were on the brief for appellee.
Glickman, Fisher, and Thompson, Associate Judges.
Appellant Cordell Smith was convicted after a jury trial of
second-degree murder while armed and associated firearms
offenses. This court affirmed appellants convictions on
direct appeal in an unpublished opinion. While that appeal
was pending, appellant moved for a new trial pursuant to D.C.
Code § 23-110 (2012 Repl.), asserting that his trial
counsels ineffectiveness had deprived him of a meritorious
defense - namely, that he had committed the homicide in
self-defense. The motion judge denied this motion without
affording appellant an evidentiary hearing. Before us now is
the appeal from that denial. For the reasons that follow, we
A. The Evidence at Trial
was tried for the fatal shooting of Rayshard Austin. The
governments main witnesses were Monica Foster, who witnessed
the events that precipitated appellants encounter with
Austin; Sheri Butler, who saw appellant retrieve a gun
moments before the two men confronted each other; and Tammy
Brown and Tremayne Morant, each of whom saw appellant shoot
Austin. The defense called no witnesses to the shooting, and
appellant did not take the stand. Through cross-examination
and argument, however, the defense tried to discredit the
governments witnesses. The theory of the defense was that
appellant was not present at the shooting and that it was
Tammy Brown who shot and killed Austin.
According to the governments evidence, the shooting took
place at about 1:30 a.m. on March 28, 2007, in the stairwell
of the Ivy City Apartments building at 1060 Mount Olivet Road
in Northeast, D.C. Monica Foster was on the street outside
the building that morning, smoking marijuana, when her
"godbrother," Rayshard Austin, came by to talk with
her. Austin was accompanied by his friends Tammy Brown and
Delonte Pearson. The three had been drinking and both Austin
and Brown were drunk; Foster testified that Austin
"reeked of liquor."
this time, appellant was with Tremayne Morant and ...