Washington Brothers Trial Begins

Pair accused of assaulting lesbians in July 2011 Columbia Heights incident

Monday, Oct. 15, featured jury selection, opening arguments and cross-examination of the government’s first two witnesses in the case against brothers Christian and Dalonte Washington, who are accused of attacking a group of women in July 2011 in Columbia Heights after the women shut down their advances by telling the brothers that they were lesbians.

Christian Washington faces a charge of threats to do bodily harm and simple assault, both with bias enhancements due to the nature of the attack against the group of women as a result of their assumed sexual orientation. Dalonte Washington faces three charges of simple assault.

Once selected, the jury sat through opening arguments Monday afternoon in D.C. Superior Court, with Judge Florence Pan presiding. The government then called two of the victims, Yazzmen Morse and Aziza Crimmins, as its witnesses. In her initial questioning of Morse, Davis submitted into evidence two pictures of Morse’s injuries following the incident and another of injuries to her girlfriend. Morse testified that the pictures were taken by her mother hours after the altercation, after police who responded to the scene refused to file an incident report.

The refusal prompted reaction from the LGBT community, demanding greater action on the part of Metropolitan Police Department. As a result, Chief Cathy Lanier announced an internal investigation of at least seven officers.

In their cross–examination of Morse, defense attorneys Dennis Braddock and Dorsey Jones seized upon the fact that during her testimony Morse had identified Dalonte Washington as the man who attacked her near the Columbia Heights Metro station. She later clarified that she had meant to point out Christian Washington, but could not see over the witness stand to where Christian Washington was seated and instead pointed at Dalonte.

Jones, the lawyer for Dalonte Washington, was forceful in his cross-examination, seeming to imply Morse had changed her story on the stand. Morse responded that she got confused and noted, softly, ”They both look alike.” Upon redirection and questioning by Davis, Morse again clarified for the court that Christian Washington was the man who had instigated the fight and punched her, leaving her with bruises on her face and a black eye.

Defense attorneys were not able to cross-examine Aziza Crimmins prior to Monday’s recess. The trial continues today, Oct. 16.

John Riley is the local news reporter for Metro Weekly. He can be reached at jriley@metroweekly.com

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