Murder suspect Derryck Decuir told a jury on Wednesday he shot 16-year-old Malek Mercer out of fear for his own life, and never intended to kill the teen.
Decuir was charged with the murder of Mercer near a bus stop in June 2015.
Decuir was on his way back from his father’s funeral with two of his friends on the night of the shooting.
“It hurt, I was down but I was trying to stay strong for my sisters,” Decuir said during emotional testimony on Wednesday, when asked by his attorney how he felt that night.
Decuir said his friend asked one of Mercer’s friends for a cigarette, and Decuir told Mercer he had a belt just like the red one Mercer wore. Decuir and his friends then got on the bus and sat behind Mercer, but Decuir said it’s because he usually sits in the back of the bus. When the two groups of friends got off the bus at the same stop, Decuir said he didn’t intend to follow Mercer, he was just walking in that same direction.
Decuir said Mercer and his friend walking toward them and Mercer pulled a gun from his bag. At that moment Decuir said he “acted in self defense.”
“I saw the two young men walking in front of me. The young man pulled out a gun, and I shot him,” Decuir said.
Decuir told the jury he was afraid for his life and “shot first.”
When asked what happened next, Decuir said he fell.
“I fell because I was startled. It scared me, and it happened so quick,” Decuir said. He said his intent wasn’t to kill Mercer.
On the night of his arrest, Decuir was taken to the homicide division. When he spoke to detectives, Decuir denied responsibility for the shooting and instead told police that he “heard a gun shot.” When asked why he lied, Mercer said he lied because he didn’t think there was a “self-defense law” in DC.
During his questioning with the police, Decuir was left in a room by himself where a video recording showed him repeating to himself that he “didn’t do it.” He told the jury that he kept saying that because the murder was “eating up his conscious.”
Decuir also told the jury that he had purchased the gun to protect himself and his family.
The defense team asked Decuir why he had guns in his possession for protection if he didn’t know there was a self-defense law. Decuir said he was “willing to go against the law to protect the well being of me and my family.”
After the shooting, Decuir told his then girlfriend, Ashley Graves, to tell his friend to take his guns out his backyard because he did not want them at his step-mother’s house or around his sisters. Decuir also admitted in court that he denied shooting Mercer to Graves because he did not want her to think he was a “killer.”
Decuir also expressed remorse and said he felt bad for putting Graves and his friend, now in jail for removing the guns, through that situation.
Mercer is currently being held without bail. The trial will resume on Thursday.