Defense tries to prove self-defense in Derryck Decuir trial

Defense attorneys for Derryck Decuir continued their attempts Tuesday to prove their client acted in self defense when he shot 16-year-old Malek Mercer.

Attorneys continued questioned Rachaen Bethea, a friend of Mercer’s. Bethea’s younger brother was with Mercer the night of the shooting. The defense’s questions sought to prove Bethea had put a gun in Mercer’s bag, which Bethea denied.

According to the defense team, during Bethea’s interrogation by police after the shooting, he was on his phone and said “[I]f something was bagged on the scene, he could have been locked up.”  The defense attorneys suggested that Bethea was talking about a gun, but Bethea said he was talking about marijuana.

Next, witness Barbara Cole testified, who lived in a house near the 2800 block of 28th Street, SE, where Mercer was killed. Cole told the jury she heard noise that woke her up.

“When I looked out, I saw a body laying there so I called the police,” Cole said.

Another friend of Mercer’s, James Gaskins, also testified in front of the jury on Tuesday.  Gaskins was with Rachaen Bethea when his younger brother Tyshawn called to say Mercer had been shot.

When Gaskins arrived at the scene, he said he saw a bag next to Mercer, and it was open. He told the jury that he was talking to Mercer but Mercer was unresponsive.  He also said that when the police arrived, they handcuffed him.

Gaskins is currently on probation and was not permitted to go to the area of the shooting. He was arrested in Maryland earlier in 2015 for attempted first-degree murder arrested in D.C. for carrying a pistol without a license.

Gaskins said he violated the rules of his probation, but argued it was because he was concerned about his friend.


Decuir’s stepmother Lakisha Barrow testified. In her testimony, Barrow said the night of the shooting she was still reeling from the death of her husband, and was unaware of what happened until Decuir called her. Barrow said Decuir told her he was not responsible for Mercer’s death.

“Something just happened I didn’t do it, I just want to let you know before you see it on the news,” Barrow said Decuir told her.

Decuir is being held without bail. The trial will resume on Wednesday.


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