Judge finds probable cause to hold Derek Turner

Derek Brian Turner has been charged with first-degree murder while armed for allegedly shooting Andrew McPhatter at Wheeler Road and Upsal Street, SE, near his home in Congress Heights on March 1.

Police officers heard gunshots in the area and found McPhatter suffering from gunshot wounds inside of a vehicle. DC Fire and EMS transported McPhatter to a local hospital, where he died from his injuries on March 5.

The same weapon used to kill McPhatter was used in at least three earlier shootings, according to an article by the Washington Post. The weapon was found in Turner’s car seven days after the shooting.

The Metropolitan Police Department arrested Turner on Sept. 6.

According to the affidavit, two cell phones belonging to Turner were linked to the incident. However, on the day of the incident, one of Turner’s cell phones bounced off a cell tower not located near the shooting. In court, defense attorney Judith Pipe also said there was no identification that Turner was linked to the incident, other than the cell phone and cell tower records.

Although DNA evidence was labeled as not suitable for comparison by the lab that the prosecution used, Pipe requested for the DNA to be retested in a different lab. She said DNA taken from the weapon that wasn’t Turner’s could be used as exculpatory evidence.

During the preliminary hearing, homicide detective Christopher Bastian was called to the stand. Pipe and prosecuting attorney Michael Truscott both asked him questions about details regarding the crime scene, vehicle and video footage of the incident.

According to Bastian, there was no motive for the murder and inferred the incident was caused by a dispute between neighborhoods.

Judge Puig-Lugo said that although both the defense and the prosecution kept differentiating between circumstantial and direct evidence, the law gives equal weight to both.

There were two pieces of evidence that are consistent with all four shootings, according to Puig-Lugo. The 10 mm gun was used at each incident, and McPhatter was connected to all four incidences. Before both cell phones were cancelled after the shooting, Turner made google searches related to McPhatter’s murder. Based on that information, Puig-Lugo found probable cause that Turner allegedly murdered McPhatter.

The prosecution is required to turn over cell phone and cell tower records by Oct. 6 to the defense for further investigations regarding third party involvement.

A felony status conference is scheduled for Nov. 17 at 10:30 a.m.

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