A D.C. Superior Court Judge found probable cause Tuesday in the cases against two Hyattsville men charged with the shooting death of Keith Banks.
Banks, a 29-year-old resident of Northwest D.C., was shot on the edge of Fort Circle Park at about 3 a.m. on Nov. 12. Investigators believe he was driven to the park, ordered out of the vehicle he had ridden in, chased down and shot. He was found unresponsive and died that morning at a local hospital, according to police reports.
In a preliminary hearing Tuesday, Metro Police Homicide Detective Gus Giannakoulias told the court that police believe two men are responsible for the shooting: Reginald Vance, a 39-year-old barber from Hyattsville, Md. and Derrell Bennett, a 22-year-old Hyattsville man. Both are charged with first-degree murder.
According to Giannakoulias, Vance is believed to have driven a Chevy Tahoe that was used to have picked Banks up, driven to the park, and waited for Banks to be shot before speeding away from the scene with the shooter.
Bennett, to whom Banks owed a drug debt, is believed by police to be the shooter in the case, Giannakoulias said. Cell phone records indicate Vance and Bennett were together at the time of the shooting and Bennett is alleged to have sent a text message to a witness in the case warning the witness that he had “addressed” Banks and that the witness “was next,” Giannakoulias said.
In an interview with Metro Police before he was arrested, Bennett told police that he “didn’t have anything to do with the case” and was with his girlfriend that evening, Giannakoulias said.
While Vance’s attorneys argued Tuesday that Vance and Banks were good friends who in fact had a vacation planned together at the time of Banks’ death, Judge Ann Keary said that based on the evidence it appeared that Vance was a “willing participant in the actual attack on his friend.”
At Keary’s assessment, which came after a full day of testimony from Giannakoulias, Vance appeared to hang his head, shaking it as Keary found probable cause in his cause.
Keary also found probable cause in the case against Bennett, whose father was in court for the preliminary hearing. Keary said the cell phone records, text messages and witness accounts contributed to her decision.
Both men are being held without bail at this time while awaiting a Grand Jury report. They are due in court again March 3 for a felony status conference.