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Jeffers v. United States

Court of Appeals of The District of Columbia

May 23, 2019

Darrise Jeffers, Appellant,
v.
United States, Appellee.

          Argued April 5, 2019

          Appeal from the Superior Court of the District of Columbia (CF1-18130-18) (Hon. Craig Iscoe, Trial Judge)

          Veronice A. Holt for appellant.

          Dan Honold, Assistant United States Attorney, with whom Jessie K. Liu, United States Attorney, and Elizabeth Trosman, Elizabeth H. Danello, John Timmer, and Melissa Jackson, Assistant United States Attorneys, were on the brief, for appellee.

          Samia Fam and Alice Wang were on the brief for amicus curiae Public Defender Service.

          Before Easterly and McLeese, Associate Judges, and Washington, Senior Judge.

          MCLEESE, ASSOCIATE JUDGE

         Appellant Darrise Jeffers appeals from the trial court's order detaining Mr. Jeffers pending trial pursuant to D.C. Code § 23-1325 (2012 Repl.). After briefing and oral argument, the court issued an emergency order remanding the case for further proceedings. We now publish this opinion to explain our ruling more fully.

         I.

         In December 2018, Mr. Jeffers was charged with first-degree murder while armed. After a detention hearing in January 2019, the trial court ordered Mr. Jeffers held without bond pending trial, pursuant to D.C. Code § 23-1325(a) (2012 Repl.).

         In summary, the evidence at the detention hearing as to the charged offense was as follows. At about 8 p.m. on July 16, 2018, several people were shot in an area known as Clay Terrace. One of them, a ten-year-old child, died as a result. Four people fired shots at the scene. Shell casings recovered from the scene indicated that at least four different weapons were fired, including a nine-millimeter weapon, a .45-caliber weapon, and a 5.56-millimeter rifle. The shooters, several of whom wore gloves, arrived at the scene in a black Infiniti. The Infiniti, which had previously been stolen in an armed carjacking, was found the next morning in Maryland. Ballistics and other evidence tied the Infiniti to the shooting and to various members of a "crew" known as Wellington Park. Wellington Park was in a dispute with another group known as Clay Terrace. The feud may have stemmed from a prior incident in October 2017 in which a member of Wellington Park was shot.

         Mr. Jeffers was a member of Wellington Park. About a week before the shooting, he exchanged text messages with Marquell Cobbs, another member of Wellington Park. The text messages indicated that Mr. Jeffers had a pistol that could have been a nine-millimeter. The same day, Mr. Cobbs communicated about guns with Qujuan Thomas, another member of Wellington Park.

         On the day of the shooting, Quentin Michals, another Wellington Park member, communicated with Mr. Thomas and Gregory Taylor (yet another member of Wellington Park) about obtaining firearms and recruiting other members of Wellington Park to participate in a planned shooting. About a half-hour before the shooting, a security camera filmed Mr. Jeffers, Mr. Michals, and others walking out of 2508 Pomeroy Road SE at various points. Mr. Jeffers lived at 2506 Pomeroy. The black Infiniti that was later involved in the shooting was parked outside of 2508 Pomeroy, as was a silver BMW. Mr. Jeffers remained outside 2508 Pomeroy, at times speaking with Mr. Cobbs and two others. Several people, some wearing hoodies and/or gloves, got into the two cars. It was a very hot day, with a high temperature of 95 degrees. After speaking to one of the passengers in the BMW, Mr. Jeffers went back into 2508 Pomeroy, returned with a pair of sneakers, and handed the sneakers to one of the passengers.

         Both cars then drove off at about 7:35 p.m. Shortly thereafter, the silver BMW returned, driven by Mr. Michals. As previously noted, the shooting occurred at approximately 8 p.m. In the following twenty minutes, other members of Wellington Park returned on foot to the area outside 2508 Pomeroy. Mr. Jeffers was sitting outside 2508 Pomeroy during this period, at times talking with others including Mr. Michals. A couple of hours later, Mr. ...


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