Attorney for Tavon Stewart suggests self defense in homicide case

The attorney for Tavon Stewart, charged with the murder of Rudolph Garris in March, questioned a lead detective in the case Tuesday, suggesting his client acted in self defense.

According to Det. Robbie Warren, who was relaying witness accounts given to him, Stewart, 23, also known as “Juice” got into an argument with 25-year-old Rudolph Garris. The entire incident took place on March 1, in the 4200 block of 6th Street, SE, outside a car where a woman sat in the driver’s seat, and a 7-year-old child in the back. The woman told police, according to Warren, that Garris took off his jacket when he was confronted by Stewart, and was in a stance to fight. Warren believes, according to witness interviews that “Juice” is the man who approached the car, and said “You’re gonna stop disrespecting me…” This, Warren gathered, was referring to a prior incident two weeks ago when Garris was allegedly talking about Stewart to other people in the neighborhood. The woman told police she exited the car and stepped in between the two men and pushed Garris into the passenger seat to diffuse the situation. Warren told the court the woman said, “Juice reached over her and shot [Garris] in the chest,” police said. The woman drove Garris to the hospital after the shooting, but he was pronounced dead. Stewart was arrested on March 24.

Stewart’s attorney questioned the detective about a hammer found 12-15 inches from the curb where the incident occurred. Warren said the hammer belonged to the female witness and was used to keep the hood of her car up. Lawyers on both sides of the case said the witness accounts are inconsistent if Garris used the hammer as a weapon or not.

The 7-year-old witness in the back seat during the incident said Garris had the hammer in his hand, but the woman told police she had not seen Garris with a hammer during the entire interaction.

Stewart’s attorney argued the use of a weapon by Garris is enough of a threat to show that any action against him would be self defense.

The hearing will reconvene on April 8.

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