Metro Weekly

Second Status Conference Ordered in Columbia Heights Murder

Prosecutor tells judge government is still seeking indictment of man accused of shooting, setting alight gay man in his apartment

Prosecutors from the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia told a D.C. superior court judge Friday that they are still seeking an indictment against a man accused of shooting a gay man and setting him on fire while the victim was tied to a chair.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Holly Schick informed Superior Court Judge Robert E. Morin at a felony status conference that the government has not yet obtained an indictment against Jermaine Brown, of Northwest Washington, on a charge of felony murder for allegedly killing Randolph Scott Harris, Jr. on July 26, 2013. There have been no bias enhancements added to the charges against Brown, who remains held without bail.

After a private, under-seal, or “ex parte” conversation with Schick, Morin scheduled Brown to appear at a second felony status conference on April 18, by which time the prosecution hopes they will have obtained an indictment.

According to charging documents, Brown was arrested following an investigation that linked him to Harris and the crime scene, from eyewitnesses who said they saw Brown near the crime scene around the time of the murder, and from serial numbers on an iPad, iPhones and an iPod touch belonging to Harris that were found in a plastic bag given to police by other witnesses who say Brown had allegedly been seen carrying the bag containing the devices and had left them at a friend’s house.

According to the charging documents, Brown was interviewed several times by police prior to his arrest and was challenged about inconsistencies in his statements to investigators regarding his relationship with the victim and how he came into possession of the electronic devices, as well as Harris’s car, which was photographed driving through the city’s Trinidad neighborhood, miles away from Harris’s apartment in Columbia Heights.

In one interview with police, Brown told investigators he had visited Harris, whom he referred to as “Man,” and alleged that Man, who was gay, had tried to “holla” at him, meaning initiate some sort of sexual contact. Brown denied “going that way” — engaging in a sexual relationship with Harris — because he told police he saw something wrong with being gay and described it as “nasty.” Police later reported that Brown had admitted to them that he had occasionally engaged in sex with men, though, according to him, not with Harris.

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

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