Oh Lord, Now I Know Why I Like This Sculpture So Much

Thanks to a reader for sending this alert from Washington Post:

“Authorities are no longer confident that they have a strong case against a 14-year-old boy accused in a drive-by shooting that killed four people in the District, and they might move to dismiss the charges against the youth, law enforcement and D.C. government sources said.”

22 Comment

  • If true, Agenda Topic #1 for the new CM Graham Commission! Kinds of makes me wish I grew up as a kid in this town, could have been in training to be the new bonnie and clyde…steal cars, run around with guns, shoot people, kill, get let out of jail for free. If they dealt with youth the way they wrote parking tickets, maybe we’d have a safe city, criminy…

  • From the Post:

    “A police sergeant who had been involved in the vehicle chase and had seen the driver “responded to the scene of this apprehension and identified this subject as the person in the driver seat of the silver minivan,” the affidavit says.

    The two adults, Orlando Carter, 20, and Nathaniel Simms, 26, have been charged with multiple offenses, including murder. One of the sources said Simms has told investigators that Carter, not the teenager, was driving the minivan.”

    So basically, it’s the word of one MPD officer against that of a criminal. Dropping the charges is not the answer. If the kid wasn’t involved, let him prove that at trial.

    • Hmmm, while I agree something is screwed up with the fact that a cop’s word not being as valuable as a suspect is it too bleeding heart to point out the fact that the kid is innocent until proven guilty?

      The way you state it, it seems as if he is guilty until proven otherwise.

      Either way if the kid gets off because a suspects word is not challenged, the system is screwed.

      • I don’t get this. The cop chased down the minivan that was known to be the shooter and identified the driver.

        So whenever a cop arrests someone for a crime that he observed, if someone else, anyone else, I guess, says “that’s not true” then charges get dropped?

        How on earth does anyone EVER go to jail for a crime unless it’s on videotape, then?

        I’m not saying he should be presumed “guilty” and I don’t think dreas is either. But if a cop identified him as the perp I can’t think why that’s not enough to bring charges.

      • No, I’m definitely not saying he’s guilty until proven otherwise. I’m saying that if there’s some evidence that he was involved, charge him and put him on trial.

        And I got sidetracked by actual work mid-article and missed the part that Jamie points out below. If he did sign in, was at the program the entire time (i.e., he didn’t skip out after 5 minutes and then show back up a few minutes before the cops did), then yes. Drop the charges.

        • Just happened apparently. The more I think about this the more it seems unlikely that the kid was involved. If in fact it was a pre-arranged alibi, why just him? How lucky that he was the kid who ran into the school while the other two, fleeing elsewhere, got caught by the police.

          Too many things would have had to be just right. This isn’t Moriarty committing the perfect crime, it’s a gang killing. I am sure the kid was in the school already.

    • You are an idiot! The way the system is weighted towards law enforcement — if they don’t have enough information to bring this CHILD to trial in the first place than why should we waste resources to begin?

  • Strike that. I just read the article. Actually it sounds entirely likely that the kid was not involved. Go read it.

    The kid was present at a meeting where the fugitives ran into. His name was on the sign in sheet. That is, to me, enough evidence that they would need to dig further. This is not at all clear-cut as the post would make it sound.

    At the same time it also seems like it should be pretty easy for the cops to figure out if he was actually in the meeting when the crime took place. There were other people there, weren’t there? Either the kid was already in the room, or he ran in with the fugitives. I am not sure why there’s a question here.

  • http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/04/22/AR2010042203447.html

    The circumstances described seem kind of weird, to be sure, but just based on what’s said here it’s entirely possible the kid was not involved.

  • The Examiner leaked a couple weeks ago that the boy is the little brother to Orlando Carter (one of the shooters). That would make a hell of a coincidence. Note that if we did DNA testing in DC it would be a rather simple matter to see if was in the van. We don’t do such testing as we don’t have a crime lab, we rely on the FBI to help us out when they can, but they apparently can’t / won’t help on this one. It’s just poor DC blacks, of course, undeserving of law enforcement…

  • Also, now we can go back to pretending the juvenile justice system is just peachy!

  • You’re saying the kid is a nuclear physicist?

  • Years ago I was a victim of 14-yr old crime. Same thing, prosecutors dropped all charges even though in that case he was caught totally red handed by the police. Must be frustrating as heck for the cops when they risk their lives to protect us and the lawyers let em go. I wonder why prosecutors feel so free to let kids get away with murder scot-free? Do they all live in Virginia or something?

  • I guess the big worry is that, in going from 41 charges to dropping them all within a week or so, will the rest of the case against the other two unravel as well?

    Also, re: the cop’s word discussed above, if you’ve ever been on jury duty in DC you are taught that a cop is just another eyewitness and you are not to inherently believe them just because they are police. Odd but true and perhaps common.

  • After reading the article, it seems to me the angst needs to be redirected.

    MPD arrested and charged a kid with 41 counts of murder, etc, who had an obvious and incredibly apparent alibi. Now, he was no angel, but it seems like MPD could have sorted out this part of it a lot sooner.

    Reminds me of that Steven Hatfill article…

    Second, a kid on the lam is not out gang banging, but hanging out in an evening school program??? It would have been so much more convenient for the stereotype if he was shooting up the ‘hood.

    • It is an interesting development.
      But it’s still very much worthy of angst. Whether this kid was involved in the shooting or not, he is still a prime example of the degree to which the DC juvenile justice system is broken. His first contact with the system was when he was 9. Between 9 and 14 there were 9 convictions and six placements in DYRS custody. At the time of his arrest, he was a fugitive from DYRS – his latest escape being his THIRD. According to the WPost article, he thought that was why the cops were arresting him. The only reason he’s not roaming the streets now is that the cops, literally, stumbled on him in the course of pursuing someone else and mistook him for that person (who, by the way, is still at large).
      I agree that MPD probably should have been able to sort this out sooner – ideally, before charging the wrong person with 41 felony counts. But the kid remains a prime example of what’s wrong with the system.

  • The two are brothers-maybe they look similar and that’s why the cop IDed the younger brother.

  • Examiner saying “Law enforcement sources said that arrest warrants are being prepared for the person now believed to have been driving and for the fourth person that has been sought since March 30…”


  • The juvenile justice system is broken, yes. But this string of comments shows that our democratic society is even more broken. 3/4 of you had tried and convicted this kid based on absolutely nothing more than news articles that didn’t identify him by name, on blog scuttlebutt, or less. You all threw the foundational principle of our system of criminal justice, that someone is innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt at trial, and screamed injustice because it was announced he wasn’t going to be prosecuted. There were even people saying that because a newspaper report said that a police officer identified the nameless kid as the driver, the burden of proof should shift to the kid to prove he wasn’t the driver. If you are one of those people, you should really examine your mindset and decide if you want to live in a country like Iran, where the burden of proof is on the accused.

    For what it is worth, every criminal attorney (and every cop) who isn’t an incompetent idiot knows that every scientific study of “eyewitness reliability” in a time of stress has shown the term is an oxymoron. Cops are humans, too, and subject to the same human fallibility. It is not unusual at all to find that witnesses make mistakes. That doesn’t make them liars; it merely makes them human.

    A nice overview of the subject is here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eyewitness_identification

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