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US govt issues travel alert to gays, others attending Sochi Olympics

State Dept warns Americans about terrorism, inadequate medical care, gay civil rights violations, crime in Russia.

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10
Jan
2014

How Vladimir Putin sent `Brand Russia` into the toilet

Vladimir Putin wanted the world to fear Russia, and it does. It fears the place is falling apart at the seams.

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31
Jan
2014

Md. man charged in stabbing outside D.C. gay bar

police, stabbing, MPD, Metropolitan Police Department

A Maryland man is charged in a stabbing that reportedly occurred outside Bachelor’s Mill. (Photo by Cliff; courtesy Wikimedia Commons)

D.C. police on Tuesday charged a 22-year-old man with assault with a dangerous weapon for allegedly stabbing another man on the street outside the Bachelor’s Mill, a gay bar at 1104 8th St., S.E. near the Washington Navy Yard.

A police statement says officers arrested Terrill Terry Jr. of La Plata, Md., on Tuesday, Feb. 4 after obtaining a D.C. Superior Court warrant that identified the weapon as a knife.

The statement says the incident began about 2:15 a.m. Sunday, Feb. 2, when officers responded to a call for help and discovered an adult male had been struck with a bottle at an establishment on the 1100 block of 8th St., S.E.

Although the statement doesn’t identify the establishment, a source familiar with the incident said the initial altercation took place inside the Bachelor’s Mill.

“The suspect fled the scene and engaged in a second altercation in the 1100 block of 7th St., S.E., where he assaulted a second adult male with a sharp item,” the statement says. “The suspect then fled the scene. Both victims received treatment at local hospitals for their injuries.”

Court records show Terry was being held without bond pending a preliminary hearing scheduled or 10:30 a.m. Friday, Feb. 7.

05
Feb
2014

Judge finds probable cause in Bachelor’s Mill stabbing

police, stabbing, MPD, Metropolitan Police Department

A Maryland man is charged in a stabbing that reportedly occurred outside Bachelor’s Mill. (Photo by Cliff; courtesy Wikimedia Commons)

A D.C. Superior Court judge ruled on Feb. 7 that prosecutors established probable cause that Terrill Terry Jr., 22, of La Plata, Md., committed an assault with intent to kill while armed outside the Capitol Hill gay bar Bachelor’s Mill five days earlier.

D.C. police arrested Terry on Feb. 4 for allegedly slashing a Bachelor’s Mill customer multiple times on the street one block from the bar following an altercation he allegedly started in the bar minutes earlier.

Judge John R. Johnson ordered Terry held without bond while he awaits trial during a Feb. 7 court hearing in which a D.C. police detective testified that jealousy may have been the motive behind Terry’s action.

An arrest affidavit prepared by Det. David Gargac says the incident began inside the Bachelor’s Mill at 1104 8th St., S.E., about 2:15 a.m. Sunday, Feb. 2, when Terry struck an acquaintance in the head with a beer bottle while the two men were on the dance floor.

Gargac testified that witnesses told police that Terry believed the acquaintance was making advances toward someone he described as his “husband” at a private party earlier that evening. The detective said several of the people at the party – including Terry and the acquaintance – went to the Bachelor’s Mill after leaving the party.

The affidavit says that when Terry struck the acquaintance with the bottle a scuffle broke out on the dance floor and bar employees escorted the acquaintance and Terry out of the club. According to the affidavit, bar security personnel and police officers out front did not respond to the acquaintance’s assertion that Terry assaulted him with the bottle, and the acquaintance and a friend walked away in one direction and Terry walked in the opposite direction.

But minutes later, according to the affidavit, Terry approached the acquaintance and charged toward him, prompting the acquaintance’s friend to block Terry’s path and urged him to back off. It was at that point that Terry slashed the friend at least six times with a sharp object that Det. Gargac said witnesses think may have been a box cutter, the affidavit says. The weapon has not been found.

Gargac testified that the friend suffered slash wounds to the neck, face, shoulder and wrist, among other places, and was bleeding “profusely” before an ambulance took him to Washington Hospital Center’s Med Start Unit, where he underwent emergency surgery.

He has since been released and is recovering from injuries that could have been fatal had they landed in a slightly different place, said Assistant U.S. Attorney James Petkun at the Feb. 7 court hearing.

The acquaintance spoke to the Blade on condition that he not be identified by name. He said the person Terry called his “husband” came on to him at the party and he politely declined that person’s overtures.

He said Terry expressed annoyance that he and Terry’s friend had a brief conversation at the party, but he never thought that interaction would prompt Terry to become violent when group left the party and arrived at the Bachelor’s Mill.

Webster Knight, Terry’s attorney, argued during the court hearing that the government presented insufficient evidence to show probable cause that Terry committed an assault with intent to kill. Knight did not disclose what, if any, explanation his client has for how the altercation started or whether or not Terry acknowledges hitting the acquaintance and slashing the acquaintance’s friend.

12
Feb
2014

D.C. murders down, anti-LGBT hate crimes up

Cathy Lanier, MPD, Metropolitan Police Department, gay news, Washington Blade

D.C. Police Chief Cathy Lanier

D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray and District Police Chief Cathy Lanier announced at a news conference on Thursday that the 88 homicides reported in the city in 2012 represent the lowest number of slayings within the city in 50 years.

Lanier noted that while robberies and sexual assaults increased in 2012, violent crimes made up just 19.6 percent of the total number of crimes, with “property crime” making up 84.4 percent of the total number of reported crimes in 2012.

Lanier didn’t include statistics on hate crimes in a crime data presentation she gave at the news conference. But preliminary data on hate crimes posted on the D.C. police website this week show hate crimes targeting victims based on their sexual orientation increased 19 percent, from 37 between January and November of 2011 to 44 between January and November of 2012.

The data show the number of hate crimes against transgender residents increased from 8 to 9 in the same 11-month period from 2011 to 2012, representing a 13 percent hike.

Police officials said hate crime data for December 2012 was being tabulated and would be released at a later date.

The total number of reported hate crimes in 2011 (from January through December) was 42 for the “sexual orientation” category and 11 for the category of “gender identity/expression,” according to the data shown on the police website.

The preliminary, 11-month figures for 2012 show that the city recorded a total of 78 hate crimes for each of the categories of victims – sexual orientation, gender identity/expression, ethnicity/national origin, race, religion, disability, political affiliation, and homelessness.

Of that total of 78, hate crimes targeting a victim because of his or her sexual orientation (44) comprised 56.4 percent of the total, the highest of all the categories. Race related hate crimes (12) came in second, at 15.3 percent, with gender identity and expression (9) coming in third, making up 11.6 percent of all reported hate crimes in D.C.

Hate crimes based on a victim’s religion (6) made up 7.7 percent of the 11-month total in 2012. Just one hate crime was reported so far in 2012 for each of the categories of disability and political affiliation. None was reported for the homelessness category in the 11-month period of 2012.

In his remarks at Thursday’s news conference, Gray said he was hopeful that his Project Empowerment program that provides job training for unemployed transgender people would lower the number of anti-trans hate crimes.

Transgender activists have said some of those participating in the job training program were forced to engage in street prostitution to survive prior to entering the program.

“If we can take some of the sense of need from people who feel like the only way they can survive is by engaging in street activity, the sale of sex, if you will – I think that’s going to reduce some of the hate crimes also because it’s not going to make people as vulnerable as they might have been,” Gray said.

“We’ve got a program started now…to try to improve the understanding of people who are transgender,” he said. “So I think in addition to working at it from a law enforcement perspective, we also need to work on it from the perspective of how we improve the conditions under which people who are transgender, for example, are living.”

Although the hate crime data for December 2012 have yet to be released, preliminary reports on the activities of the department’s Gay and Lesbian Liaison Unit show at least three possible anti-LGBT hate crimes took place in December.

Officials with the local group Gays and Lesbians Opposing Violence (GLOV) have said they believe the actual number of anti-LGBT hate crimes is significantly greater than the number reported because some LGBT victims choose not to report hate crimes.

Activists say some hate crime victims report the crime as an assault without informing police they were targeted for their sexual orientation or gender identity. In other cases, according to GLOV, a police officer many not recognize an assault or other crime as a hate crime and doesn’t record it as such on a police report.

Just one LGBT related murder took place in 2012 — the February 2012 stabbing death of transgender woman Deoni Jones, 23, at a bus stop in Northeast D.C. Police arrested District resident Gary Niles Montgomery, 55, for the crime less than two weeks later. Montgomery has since been indicted on first-degree murder while armed and is being held in jail while he awaits trial.
Police have listed the motive of the slaying as robbery rather than a hate crime.

Transcript follows:

Blade: Chief, can you say a little about hate crimes and where they fit into the overall crime statistics you presented today? Are they going up or down?

Chief Lanier: I don’t have any hate crime statistics with me. I’ll get them for you. We were staying pretty much even across the board for hate crimes. We did have some increases in different categories. But I have to get back to you with the specific categories. I’ll get it for you.

Mayor Gray: I think, Lou, if I could add a facet to that. I think you know that we worked hard to try to create a greater acceptance of people who are transgender, who often times are the victims of hate crimes in the District of Columbia. And if we can take some of the sense of need from people who feel like the only way they can survive is by engaging in street activity, the sale of sex, if you will — I think that’s going to reduce some of the hate crimes also because it’s not going to make people as vulnerable as they might have been.

We had a very successful year with our transgender efforts in the last 12 to 15 months. We had three cohorts to go through the Department of Employment Service’s Project Empowerment. We were able to get people jobs. We got a campaign started now, as I think you know, to try to improve the understanding of people who are transgender. So I think in addition to working at it from a law enforcement perspective, we also need to work on it from the perspective of how we improve the conditions under which people who are transgender, for example, are living.

“While we congratulate MPD and the city of Washington in reaching the lowest level of overall homicides in 50 years, the anti-LGBT violence numbers are still going up at an alarming rate and need to be addressed,” said A.J. Singletary, chair of GLOV.

“Even though the low homicide rate was the big story of the day, Chief Lanier rightly included data on other categories of crime” in her presentation at the news conference, Singletary said. “Hate crimes should have been included for comparison purposes as well. While the LGBT community is acutely aware of the violence we face on a daily basis in Washington, other citizens of D.C. as well as the mainstream media often aren’t aware of this large and seemingly ever-growing problem,” he said.

04
Jan
2013

Probation for D.C. cop in trans shooting case

Metro DC Police, gay news, Washington Blade

D.C. police officer Kenneth Furr was sentenced in a case related to the firing of his gun through the windshield of a car with the five people inside. (Washington Blade photo by Phil Reese)

An off-duty D.C. police officer accused in August 2011 of firing his service revolver into a car occupied by three transgender women and two male friends was sentenced on Thursday to three years of supervised probation, a $150 fine, and 100 hours of community service.

D.C. Superior Court Judge Russell Canan also sentenced Officer Kenneth Furr, 48, to five years in prison but suspended all but 14 months of the prison term and credited Furr with the 14 months he already served between the time of his arrest and his trial last October.

Canan released Furr October 26 while awaiting sentencing after a Superior Court jury convicted him of assault with a deadly weapon and solicitation for prostitution but acquitted him on six other charges, including the most serious charge of assault with intent to kill while armed.

The latter charge was linked to his firing of five shots into the car where the transgender women and their friends were sitting.

Police and prosecutors have said the shooting occurred following a confrontation that started when Furr solicited one of the transgender women for sex for money at 5th and K Streets, N.W., and followed the woman after she rejected his offer. Furr then argued with one or more of her friends who asked Furr leave her alone.

At the time of his arrest, police said Furr’s blood alcohol level was twice that of the legal limit for drivers.

Canan rejected a request by Assistant U.S. Attorney Laura Worm, the lead prosecutor, that Furr be given the maximum sentence of 5 years in prison for the assault with a deadly weapon charge. He also denied her request for an additional three months incarceration for the solicitation conviction.

News of the shooting outraged LGBT activists as well as Mayor Vincent Gray and members of the D.C. City Council, who called for stepped up efforts to curtail violence against the city’s transgender community.

The D.C. Trans Coalition issued a statement late Thursday calling the sentence of no additional jail time for Furr “outrageous” and said it would heighten longstanding fears by the transgender community of mistreatment and abuse by police officers.

“This result is the product of a legal system that constantly devalues trans lives, particularly trans people of color,” said D.C. Trans Coalition member Jason Terry. “Officer Furr’s defense team actively sought to portray the victims as somehow deserving of this violence, and apparently they succeeded,” he said.

“If roles had been reversed and a black trans woman had gotten drunk and shot a gun at a police officer, the results would be drastically different,” Terry said.

Court observers said the jury’s decision to find Furr not guilty on the assault with intent to kill while armed charge most likely resulted from a successful effort by Furr’s attorneys to portray the shooting as an act of self-defense.

Canan said his suspension of 46 months of the 60 month (five year) prison term was contingent upon Furr’s successful completion of his three year probation period and other restrictions, including a requirement that he stay away from the five complainants.

Court records show Canan also ordered Furr to stay away from “the area bounded by: New York Avenue, Massachusetts Avenue, 7th Street, N.W. and North Capitol Street, N.W.,” which is widely known as one of the city’s transgender prostitution zones.

In addition, Canan set as a condition for the parole that Furr enter an alcohol treatment program and enroll in anger management classes.

In the sentencing memorandum on behalf of the U.S. Attorney’s office, Worm said one reason why Furr was not a good candidate for a sentence involving parole and no prison time was that he failed to immediately comply with his pre-sentencing release conditions. She noted that although he was instructed to report immediately after his release on Oct. 26 for regular alcohol testing and other conditions, he did not report for the testing until a full month after his release.

The charge of assault with a deadly weapon, on which he was convicted, stemmed from allegations by prosecutors that Furr pointed his gun at one of the transgender women’s friends outside a CVS store on the 400 block of Massachusetts Ave., N.W. at about 5 a.m. on Aug 26, 2011.

According to testimony by the victims, Furr solicited one of the trans women propositioning sex for money minutes earlier on the street at 5th and K Streets, N.W. The woman rebuffed his request and walked away, but Furr followed her to the CVS store, where one of her male friends called on Furr to leave her alone, witnesses reported.

Furr then started an argument that continued outside the store, where Furr pulled out his gun and pointed it at the women’s friend.

Although Furr did not fire the gun, prosecutors argued his action constituted an assault with a deadly weapon and persuaded the jury to convict him on that count.

During the trial the defense presented evidence, which prosecutors acknowledged was factually correct, that the trans women and their male friends responded by following Furr in their car after Furr drove away from the CVS store.

Trial testimony showed that the group followed Furr to the area of 3rd and K Street, N.W., where they observed Furr attempting to solicit another transgender woman for sex. At that point, two of the people in the car got out and confronted Furr and one or both of them assaulted Furr, witnesses testified during the trial.

Furr then returned to his car and drove away, with the trans women and their male friends following him again, witnesses testified. This prompted Furr to stop his car at First and Pierce Streets, N.W., and fire his gun at the other car, which Furr’s lawyer said was in pursuit of his, according to testimony at the trial.

One of the male friends driving the vehicle ducked to avoid being shot and unintentionally rammed the car into Furr’s car, witnesses testified.

Furr responded by climbing on the hood of the car occupied by the transgender women and their friends and fired five times through the front windshield, causing three of the occupants to suffer non-fatal gunshot wounds.

Within minutes D.C. police rushed to the scene and arrested Furr, who was found to have a blood alcohol level twice the legal limit under D.C. law.

David Knight, Furr’s lead defense attorney, appeared to have persuaded the jury that the people he shot at were the aggressors and Furr acted in self-defense, court observers said.

“He was alone, outnumbered and under attack,” the Washington Post quoted Knight saying to the jury. “He was threatened, assaulted and pursued by a car full of people who wanted to harm him.”

In her sentencing memorandum, Worm said that at no point did Furr identify himself as a police officer to the complainants nor did he call for police help if he believed he was in danger.

“To be sure, some of the complainants involved in this incident engaged in risky behavior and bad judgment,” she said in the memo.

“The government does not minimize the fact that both parties had opportunities to withdraw from this conflict, but the government’s view, as exhibited in its charging decisions, is that the defendant bore criminal responsibility for provoking and escalating the conflict, and introducing a deadly weapon into a situation that could have otherwise been resolved,” Worm wrote in the memo.

“Many of the witnesses who testified at trial were associated, in some way, with Washington, D.C.’s transgender community,” Worm said in the memo. “That community has historically suffered discrimination from a variety of sources. Moreover, the members of the transgender community bear a heightened risk that they will be victims of violent crime,” she wrote.

“This defendant was a police officer charged with protecting and serving the citizens of the District of Columbia,” she said. “Defendant Furr’s actions on the night of this offense increased the transgender community’s already significant safety concerns and their distrust of the Metropolitan Police Department.”

D.C. police spokesperson Gwendolyn Crump said Furr has been suspended without pay and that the department will follow its standard procedure for dealing with an officer convicted of a felony. Police observers have said a felony conviction, especially one associated with violence, usually results in the firing of a police officer.

11
Jan
2013

Family to memorialize slain trans woman

The stepfather and sister of a transgender woman stabbed to death at a Northeast D.C. bus stop last February are inviting members of the LGBT community to participate in a memorial remembrance for Deoni Jones on Saturday, Feb. 2, to commemorate the anniversary of her death.

Deoni Jones, gay news, gay politics dc

Over 200 people attended a candlelight vigil held for Jones. (Washington Blade file photo by Michael Key)

Jones’ family members, who refer to her by her birth name JaParker, told more than 200 people who turned out for a vigil at the site of the murder days after the incident took place that they fully accepted her as a transgender woman and treated her as a cherished member of the family.

“We want to have this event to not only honor JaParker, but to also shine light on the fact that so often members of our society who are GLBT face violence in their daily lives simply because of who they are, and that as a civilized society we will not tolerate violence against the GLBT community,” said Alvin Bethea, Jones’ stepfather.

“At this memorial we will have prayer, songs, and statements from the community,” Bethea said in an email to the Blade.

He said Jones’ sister, JuDean Jones, and other family members and friends were helping to organize the memorial remembrance.

The event is scheduled to take place 4:30 p.m., Saturday, Feb. 2, at East Capitol Street and Sycamore Street, N.E., at the site of the Metro bus stop where police say Jones was stabbed while sitting on a bench waiting for a bus.

Through the help of witnesses and nearby residents, D.C. police charged 55-year-old Gary Niles Montgomery with second-degree murder while armed in connection with Jones’ death eight days after the murder took place. In November, a D.C. Superior Court grand jury indicted Montgomery on a charge of first-degree murder while armed.

He has been held in jail without bond since the time of his arrest in February 2012.

A police arrest affidavit says a video surveillance camera which recorded the murder shows a male assailant taking Jones’ purse immediately after stabbing her in the face. The affidavit says witnesses identified the person in the video as Montgomery.

Although the taking of the purse indicates the motive of the attack was robbery, police said they have not ruled out the possibility that Jones was targeted because of her status as a transgender person.

However, Bethea told the Blade that he and his family believe Jones’ murder was a hate crime and that police and prosecutors should have classified it as a hate crime, which would give a judge authority to hand down a more stringent or “enhanced” sentence if Montgomery is convicted.

“We believe that it is clear in the video footage of this murder that the elements of a hate crime are present and that hate crime enhancement papers should be served upon this individual,” Bethea said in a email.

He said the family has urged the U.S. Attorney’s office, which is prosecuting the case, to list the murder as a hate crime.

“[W]e are considering filing a complaint with the Department of Justice Civil Rights Division seeking redress of [this] error,” Bethea said in his email.

According to court records, on March 23, Montgomery was declared competent to stand trial following a court ordered mental evaluation. He pleaded not guilty on Nov. 9, two days after the grand jury indicted him on the first-degree murder while armed charge. During a court hearing on Nov. 30, Superior Court Judge Robert E. Morin scheduled a trial date for June 10.

Court records show that questions surrounding Montgomery’s metal health surfaced in January, prompting Morin to order “24 hour forensic screening” for Montgomery “based on the representations of defense counsel.”

Morin scheduled a mental observation hearing for 10:30 a.m. Tuesday, Jan. 29, to assess Montgomery’s condition.

Court records show Morin denied at least two requests by Montgomery’s attorneys that he be released from jail while awaiting trial. Prosecutors with the U.S. Attorney’s office opposed the requests for Montgomery’s release.

D.C. Homicide Watch, a blog that reports on all murder cases in the city, reported that defense attorney Colle Latin argued in a motion that prosecutors failed to demonstrate that Montgomery would be a risk to the community or of fleeing the area if released. Latin also argued that the video, which is fuzzy in quality, doesn’t clearly identify Montgomery as the person who stabbed Jones.

A spokesperson for the U.S. Attorney’s office couldn’t immediately be reached for comment.

28
Jan
2013

Roommate charged in murder of D.C. man

1630 Fuller St., N.W., The Mozart, gay news, Washington Blade

1630 Fuller St., N.W. (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

A 21-year-old D.C. man charged with stabbing his 68-year-old roommate to death on Feb. 2 was released from jail three weeks before the murder when a D.C. Superior Court judge dismissed an unrelated assault and robbery charge pending against him.

D.C. police on Feb. 3 charged David Jamal Wilson with first-degree felony murder while armed for the alleged fatal stabbing of Howard Venable, Jr., inside Venable’s apartment at 1630 Fuller St., N.W.

Court records show the U.S. Attorney’s office, which is prosecuting the case, lowered the charge to second-degree murder while armed when prosecutors filed charging papers in D.C. Superior Court.

Two sources familiar with the case told the Washington Blade that Venable had been having an affair with Wilson and was providing financial support for him during the time Wilson was living with him.

Court charging documents list Wilson’s address as 1400 Fairmont St., N.W., where he had been living in the past with his mother, sources said. WhitePages.com, an online phone and address directory, lists a David Wilson and Sertira Wilson as residing in the same apartment at 1400 Fairmont St., N.W., sometime in the recent past.

D.C. police spokesperson Gwendolyn Crump confirmed that Wilson had been living with Venable at the time of the murder and that homicide detectives were investigating the nature of the relationship between the two men.

Court records show that Wilson and two other men were charged with armed robbery on Aug. 22, 2012 for allegedly stealing a bicycle from another man at knifepoint in Meridian Hill Park. Court records show that Wilson was initially held in jail following his arrest and later released through a court supervised release program while awaiting trial.

According to court records, prosecutors lowered the charge against Wilson from robbery while armed, which is classified as a felony, to second-degree theft and simple assault, which are misdemeanor offenses.

The court records show Wilson was returned to jail after prosecutors told the judge he violated the terms of his release.

But the case unraveled a short time later, court records show, when Superior Court Judge Marisa J. Demeo dismissed the case and ordered Wilson released from jail on Jan. 10, 2013, on grounds of “want of prosecution.”

William Miller, a spokesperson for the U.S. Attorney’s office, told the Blade on Tuesday that Demeo dismissed the case on the day the trial was scheduled to begin when the victim, who was to be the lead witness, failed to show up in court for the trial.

“The case was dismissed without prejudice, which would allow us to bring the case up again,” Miller said. He said prosecutors have been unable to locate the victim.

Miller declined to comment on Wilson’s latest arrest for the murder of Venable, saying the U.S. Attorney’s office never comments on pending criminal cases.

Details of the murder allegations against Wilson were filed in court on Feb. 4 as part of an arrest affidavit. The document says police found Venable lying face down in a pool of blood on the floor of his apartment under the bedroom doorway at 6:48 p.m.

Personnel from the D.C. Fire and Emergency Medical Service Department determined there were no signs of life when they arrived on the scene, the affidavit says. An autopsy later found that Venable suffered “multiple slashing wounds to the neck, minor cuts to both hands consistent with defensive wounds, and two stab wounds to the upper torso.”

One of the stab wounds to the torso struck his aorta, leading the D.C. Medical Examiner’s office to conclude the cause of death was “sharp force wounds to the neck and torso.”

The affidavit says two witnesses who knew Venable told a homicide detective a male roommate was living with Venable. One of the witnesses identified the roommate as Wilson, the affidavit says.

It says the apartment was locked and there were no signs of a forced entry or a struggle when someone from the building initially entered the apartment and found Venable lying on the floor unconscious.

A short time later, detectives discovered that money was withdrawn from Venable’s checking account shortly after the murder through an ATM in a convenience store at a BP gas station in District Heights, Md., the affidavit says. It says detectives viewed a surveillance video from the gas station and store and saw Wilson enter and place at least two different cards into the ATM in several separate transactions. The video shows him placing cash obtained from the ATM into his pockets, the affidavit says.

Without saying how police learned where to find Wilson, the affidavit says detectives on Feb. 3 arrived at a residence at 1841 Addison Road in District Heights, Md., where Wilson was staying. It says Wilson agreed to go with detectives to the D.C. police homicide office in Southwest D.C., where he was questioned about Venable’s murder.

“During the course of the interview, the defendant provided numerous inconsistent accounts of his involvement in the decedent’s murder,” the affidavit says. It says Wilson initially said he had not been in Venable’s apartment since Jan. 10 but later said he entered the apartment on Jan. 31 before leaving for work and returned later and found Venable’s body lying in the doorway to the victim’s bedroom.

He denied taking Venable’s bank cards and later claimed someone else he knows told him that person planned to rob Venable. The other person, whom Wilson identified as “Stacks,” invited him to meet him in Maryland and gave him Venable’s bankcards and persuaded him to use them to withdraw money from the ATM at the gas station convenience store, the affidavit says.

“The defendant, who was 47 years younger than the decedent, finally said he was involved in an argument with the decedent inside the apartment and that the decedent went to the kitchen and retrieved a knife,” says the affidavit. “The defendant said he and the decedent wrestled for control of the knife and the decedent fell to the floor stabbing himself,” it says.

“The defendant was then placed under arrest,” it says.

Wilson, who is being held without bond, is scheduled for a preliminary hearing on Feb. 20.

06
Feb
2013

Judge upholds murder charge in roommate stabbing case

1630 Fuller St., N.W., The Mozart, gay news, Washington Blade

1630 Fuller St., N.W. (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

A D.C. Superior Court judge on Wednesday ruled that prosecutors demonstrated probable cause exists that David Jamal Wilson, 21, allegedly stabbed his 68-year-old roommate to death in the D.C. apartment they shared.

Police found Howard Venable dead in his apartment at the Mozart Apartments at 1630 Fuller St., N.W. on Feb. 2. The U.S. Attorney’s office charged Wilson with second degree murder while armed on Feb. 4 after D.C. police homicide detectives discovered he used credit cards he allegedly stole from Venable to withdraw more than $600 in cash from ATM machines in District Heights, Md.

During a Feb. 20 preliminary hearing, Judge Stuart Nash ruled that prosecutors provided sufficient evidence to show probable cause and “substantial probability” that Wilson murdered Venable. The ruling clears the case for trial, which is expected to take place later this year.

No mention was made during the hearing about how Venable and Wilson met or the nature of their relationship. Two sources told the Blade that the two were having an affair and that Venable was providing financial support for Wilson.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Holly Schick, the prosecutor in the case, pointed to an autopsy report showing that Venable was stabbed multiple times in the neck and torso and had “defensive” wounds on his hands and arms.

A police arrest affidavit says Wilson initially denied he was staying in the apartment and denied any role in the murder. It says he gave police several conflicting versions of how Venable was killed, including one version that Venable was stabbed by intruders who planned to rob him. The affidavit says Wilson acknowledged Venable had been stabbed before police publicly disclosed the killing involved a stabbing.

In another version, Wilson said he got into a fight with Venable inside the apartment and Venable retrieved a knife from the kitchen and the two struggled before Venable fell and stabbed himself, the affidavit says.

In his ruling, Nash said the autopsy report and other evidence shows the death could not have been caused by Venable accidently stabbing himself.

Defense attorney Jacqueline Cadman argued that police did not present any physical evidence linking Wilson to the murder. She said Wilson gave several versions of what may have happened during a four-hour interrogation session at the police homicide office.

“It is speculation,” she said. “There is no evidence whatsoever that links Mr. Wilson to Mr. Venable’s death.”

She urged Nash to release Wilson from jail while he awaits trial, saying he would not present a risk to the community. She noted that Wilson is married and has three small children, who rely on him for financial support.

Nash declined that request and ordered Wilson held until trial.

Court records show that Wilson’s wife obtained a civil protection order against him in July 2011 after accusing him of assaulting her and presenting what she believed was a threat to their children. Records show the Superior Court’s Domestic Violence Unit issued a stay away order prohibiting Wilson from returning to the home where he and his wife and children had been living.

At Wednesday’s court hearing on the murder charge, defense attorney Cadman said Wilson’s wife was in the courtroom to show her support for him and favored a ruling to allow Wilson’s release on bond.

Judge Nash scheduled a status hearing for May 10.

21
Feb
2013

Montgomery County police investigate anti-gay vandalism

Montgomery County Police Dept. photo via Facebook.

Montgomery County Police Dept. photo via Facebook.

Montgomery County police continue to investigate an incident of anti-gay vandalism against one of its cruisers.

The department said in a press release that officers responded to a report of vandalism on Melody Lane in Bethesda around 3:15 a.m. on Feb. 17. They found a vehicle with profanity and “images of male genitalia” that had been spray painted onto it.

The officers also found a swastika and anti-gay comments spray painted onto a Montgomery County Police Department K-9 vehicle.

The department said officers responded to two other vandalism incidents — including a landscaping rock that had been painted with a swastika — later on Feb. 17 on Wahly Drive.

A Montgomery County Police Department spokesperson told the Washington Blade earlier on Monday there is “no update at this time” on the investigation. The MCPD is offering up to a $2,000 reward for information that leads to an arrest in the case.

26
Feb
2013