Suspect found not guilty of 2015 murder

Rashad Allen was found not guilty Tuesday for the 2015 murder of David Troy Simmons.

Simmons, 32, was found fatally shot at 4:53 a.m. on March 15, 2015 on the 2300 block of Hartford Street, SE. A second victim, survived the shooting.

Allen, also known as “Hype,” was initially charged with second-degree murder while armed, two counts of possession of firearm during crime of violence, assault with intent to kill while armed, carrying a pistol without a license, and unlawful possession of a firearm.

A jury found him not guilty on all counts.

Fourteen jury members were sworn in on Oct. 31, 2017.

According to a narrative relayed at trial, Simmons, also known as Troy or “Yayo,” attended his daughter’s first birthday party on the night of March 14, 2015. Afterward, he went over to Christopher Williams’ apartment at 2315 Hartford Street and met up with Williams and Williams’ brother to play a videogame.

After the brother left around 3:30 a.m., Williams, also known as “Moochie,” and Simmons stepped into the apartment courtyard. The suspected shooter approached and shot approximately 6-8 shots. Simmons was fatally shot in the courtyard and found clutching money in his hand, while Williams was shot and survived. The shooter escaped and Williams was found by officers in a neighboring apartment complex.

Prosecutors Michael Liebman and Chris Bruckner argued that Allen was guilty for the murder due to his “guilty behavior” after the shooting. Allen missed a court appearance for an unrelated offense immediately after the shooting occurred, despite never having missed a court appearance before. He also disappeared from the 2300 block of Hartford Street, even though he had regularly hung out in the neighborhood in the past.

Allen spent the weeks leading up to his arrest hiding in the apartment of Phillip Mayrant, 60, who has been legally blind for the past 9 years. Mayrant agreed to allow Allen stay in his apartment, after some friends asked on behalf of the defendant. Allen, who had never met Mayrant before, introduced himself first as “Hype” and then as “John”.

Allen arrived at the apartment with no clothing or food, never left the apartment, and spent most of his time looking out the window, according to Mayrant’s testimony. Police arrested Allen on April 25, 2015, after he was found hiding behind a sofa in Mayrant’s apartment.

Vernetta Simmons, Simmons’ mother, was the first witness called to testify. She said Allen and Simmons had been friends for years, and was unaware of any disagreements or “bad blood” between the two.

Tiki Hughes, Simmons’ aunt, was another witness who testified that she had heard from Williams that Allen was the shooter. Following the shooting, she drove past the neighborhood on Hartford Street and saw Williams. Hughes called out to him and introduced herself as Simmons’ aunt, saying she just wanted to talk to him.

Williams got into Hughes’ car, but didn’t feel comfortable talking. He only agreed to tell Hughes what happened that night, if they could talk outside and he wouldn’t be recorded. She promised Williams that if he told her what happened, she wouldn’t tell anyone.

Hughes said that had she not been subpoenaed, she wasn’t sure if she would have still talked.

However, when Williams was called as a witness, he testified that he didn’t remember what happened that night. He said he didn’t know who shot him or Simmons, despite the fact that video recordings of police interviews show Williams saying “he shot me.” When he was shown photos or video recordings of himself, he said he still didn’t remember what had happened.

When Williams was shown the physical ammunition magazines, holster and bullets that were found in his apartment after a search warrant was issued, he said, “Where’d you get that?”

Another witness, Wayne Holly, lived on the third floor of the apartment complex at the time of the shooting. That night, he heard arguing while he was in his bedroom and recognized the voice of Allen, someone who Holly had seen around the neighborhood.

Holly looked out the window and saw three figures, none of whom were holding a gun. After going to the bathroom and coming back, he heard 6-8 shots. He waited a moment before looking out the window again and saw Simmons by himself, lying on the ground.

The defense argued that Allen was innocent, due to the fact that no gun was recovered at the scene of the crime. While defense attorney April Downs didn’t dispute the fact that Allen was present at the night of the shooting, she did point out that Holly testified that he didn’t see a gun.

The defense’s argument was there must have been a fourth person present during the shooting. While Holly waited before looking out the window again, that would provide enough time for a fourth person to get away.

The defense argued that Allen was not the shooter because not only was there no gun found at the scene of the crime, but there was also no DNA evidence linking Allen to the crime. During the second week of trial, the defense pointed out a ski mask that was shown in one of the photographs of the courtyard — which was not recovered by detectives. Downs argued the DNA found on the inside of the ski mask could have lead to the suspected shooter and prove Allen’s innocence.

Throughout the two-week trial, more than 15 witnesses testified, including expert witnesses who provided knowledge about gunshot residue and blood splatter patterns. Police officers who responded to the scene of the crime and the chief medical examiner who conducted the autopsy also testified.

Before the verdict was read, the judge informed the courtroom that multiple jury members had requested to be escorted out of the courthouse after the trial.

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