Donta McNeil pleads not guilty to murder

Donta McNeil, 29, pleaded not guilty to four charges including second-degree murder Tuesday morning. He is being held without bail, but may be transferred to another facility or a halfway house because the jail is too hot.

McNeil is charged with second-degree murder while armed for allegedly fatally shooting Antonio Dean, 24, on Aug. 22, 2015. He is also charged with possession of a firearm during a crime of violence, assault, and one count of obstruction of justice.

McNeil’s attorney, David Maxted, requested that the court set a trial date as soon as possible. While D.C. Superior Court Judge Jose Lopez managed to set a motions hearing for Sep. 26, and a response hearing for Nov. 26, McNeil’s trial is tentatively scheduled for Aug. 21, 2017. A felony status conference has been scheduled for Oct. 13.

Maxted and the Assistant U.S. Attorney, Paul Eckert, said they believe the trial will take three to four days at the longest to complete. Eckert could not guess how many witnesses he would present at the trial.

Maxted also requested to transfer his client out of D.C. jail because the living conditions in DC jail are “intolerable” due to the heat. The temperature “gets as hot as 100 degrees” and “feels even hotter due to the humidity and the particular location he’s being held in,” Maxted said. Lopez said he would recommend McNeil’s transfer. Yesterday, another murder suspect requested a transfer out of the D.C. jail because of the same issue. 

On Saturday, Aug. 22, 2015, the Metropolitan Police Department responded to a report of shooting at 1324 Stevens Road, SE. Officers found Antonio Dean suffering from gunshot wounds to the head and body. He showed no signs of life and was taken to the office of the Chief Medical Examiner for the District of Columbia, who ruled his death a homicide.

MPD officers found multiple .45 caliber shell casings as well as multiple 9mm shell casings at the scene of the crime.

According to documents, a witness told police they saw a group of black men gambling at the scene of the crime when a “brown-skinned, heavy set, black male, wearing a white colored tee-shirt” who they later identified as Donta Curtis McNeil, “get into a verbal altercation with the decedent [Dean.]”

Witnesses told police they saw McNeil pull out a handgun and point it at Dean. The witness then took cover inside a residence and “immediately heard numerous gunshots.” Afterward, they saw McNeil “walking in a fast pace towards Stevens Road.” The witness identified McNeil after looking at a series of photographs.

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