Murder suspect claims self defense

Details of the crime scene where 29-year-old Dominic Brooks was killed were relayed to a judge in court Friday.

William Edward Smith appeared in court for a preliminary hearing, for charges he allegedly fatally stabbed Brooks, on June 9, in the 800 block of Chesapeake Street, SE. He was charged with second-degree murder while armed on June 15.

The government questioned a detective investigating the murder about a pocket knife and box cutter that were recovered from the scene. According to the detective, a witness said they had not seen Brooks with a knife or box cutter. The detective, who was there when Smith was arrested, said the suspect was found with pocket knife and he had used a fake name when first interviewed.

Smith’s attorney went on to cross examine the detective, beginning with questioning the injuries reported by the Chief Medical Examiner. The detective mentioned how the victim was found with a singular stab to the chest, deep enough to pierce the heart and lung. It was also reported that he had minor abrasions on the tops of his hands, indicating that he was involved in an altercation where he had used his fists.

One of the witness’ interviewed had been dating Brooks for about a month. On the night of June 8 leading to June 9, the two were attending a birthday party together. The witness had been drinking that night, according to what someone told the detective.

The witness and Brooks left the party and proceeded down the street, where they ended up crossing paths with Smith and someone named Lou. Smith and Brooks engaged in a conversation, after crossing paths, which led to a verbal altercation. The witness said they were unable to hear what the verbal altercation was about. The confrontation turned physical.

The witness told the detective that Brooks had been involved in a prior altercation, in which he had suffered injuries. In the early morning of June 9, he seemed to want to fight again. Prior to the fight, Brooks never reached in his pocket for any object, the witness told the detective.

The detective also summarized testimonies from other witnesses. An anonymous caller said they learned Smith said Brooks reached for a gun, so he stabbed him. Smith had also said that Brooks apparently had a hammer, so he decided to stab him. Another person interviewed said Smith was afraid because he believed Brooks carried a gun and a knife.

According to the defense, Smith felt threatened by Brooks who had a prior arrest for a weapons charge. They argued the court should not find probably cause, because Smith was acting in self-defense.

Smith felt threatened by Brooks, who had a prior arrest for a weapons charge, along with being scared by him. This led Smith to act first so he wouldn’t be shot or attacked by Brooks.He said at the very least, the charge should be mitigated to voluntary manslaughter and that Smith should be released.


Judge Lynn Lebovitz there is probable cause that Smith stabbed Brooks. She said she made the ruling because Smith had already admitted to the stabbing and there was no evidence that Brooks was armed.

Smith has already gone through a murder trial in Judge Leibovitz’s courtroom, in which he was acquitted by a jury. She said that this, along with him being a drug user and a potential danger to the community are reasons for him to be held. The defense requested that he be released to the High Intensity Supervision Program and monitored with GPS.

The judge denied the request and he was ordered to be held with no bond.

They are set to reappear on Nov. 9 for a felony status conference.



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