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The courtroom was silent Friday in the moments before Frances Lyles was expected to plead guilty to voluntary manslaughter and perjury.
Minutes passed while Lyles struggled to speak. Then, Lyles took a deep breath and answered, “Yes.”
But when the judge asked her to explain to the court in her own words the events that led up to her child’s death, Lyles was silent.
On Nov. 14, 2011, police found a lifeless Smith, 27, with a gunshot wound to the head, in the 1100 block of 21st Street Northeast, charging documents say. A second man shot in the incident survived.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Glenn Kirschner argued that the evidence proved Williams was involved in Smith’s death. “It paints a pretty clear picture of Williams’ involvement in the death of a Government witness,” Kirschner said.
“The fact that you caused your child’s death is as tragic as can be,” Judge Lynn Leibovitz told Tisheena Brown before her sentencing. “A child was vulnerable and didn’t deserve to die.”
Brown, 33, pleaded guilty to one count of voluntary manslaughter in May for the overdose death of her seven-week-old son Hakeem Brown in September 2013. She also pleaded guilty to insurance fraud. On Friday, Judge Leibovitz sentenced Brown to four years in prison.
“The U.S. Attorney’s Office moved to dismiss the case because of insufficient evidence at this time,” spokesperson William Miller said. “The investigation is continuing. Because the investigation is ongoing, we have no further comment at this time.”
In a partial verdict delivered Thursday, jurors cleared Daquan Tinker of first-degree premeditated murder and felony murder, but found him guilty of robbery while armed.
The jury could still convict Tinker of second-degree murder.
Chappell Jury Foreman: “There was very little question in our minds as to his guilt on the obstruction charges.”
A jury convicted Demonta Chappell of the murder of Stevann Moorer Thursday, plus two firearm charges and obstruction of justice. But immediately after the verdict was read, Judge Rhonda Winston said there might not be enough evidence for the obstruction charge, and she ordered lawyers from both sides to submit briefs.
This was a surprise to the jury’s foreman, Bill Schulz.
“As jury foreman for this trial, I am shocked at Judge Winston’s actions regarding the obstruction of justice charges,” he wrote in a comment on this site. “This was a unanimous verdict and we had no trouble convicting the defendant on these charges.”
We asked if he would say more about Judge Winston’s instructions before deliberations began, and how jurors reached their verdict. He sent this reply: Read more
Jurors delivered the verdict Wednesday afternoon after less than two days of deliberations.
“But that wasn’t enough,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Veronica Sanchez told the jury. “He shot him two more times. But that wasn’t enough. As Stevann Moorer lay helpless on the ground, that man stood over him and shot him two more times.”
On Tuesday, the jury will begin deliberating whether Chappell is guilty of first-degree premeditated murder while armed, plus two firearm offenses and obstruction of justice, in connection with the shooting death of 26-year-old Moorer. Read more