On June 25, Deonte Bryant and Terry Jimenez stood on opposite sides of a fight, each a member of an opposing gang. Facing off, as prosecutors tell it, the two exchanged gunfire. Jimenez was wounded. Bryant ran, the clip from his semi-automatic pistol falling to the ground as he made his escape.
Today the two young men became co-defendants.
Bryant, 20, and Jimenez, 19, are each charged with second-degree murder in the death of Robert Foster Jr, an innocent man struck in the exchange of bullets that prosecutors likened to urban warfare.
According to charging documents in the case, the argument between Bryant and Jimenez goes back to 2007 when 15-year-old Jonathan Lamont Franklin Jr. was gunned down in a triple shooting near 14th and Ingraham streets NW.
Franklin and Bryant were good friends, both members of the Clifton Terrace University (CTU) gang, and CTU blamed Franklin’s killing on a rival gang, the Hobart Stars.
It wasn’t immediately clear Wednesday evening whether anyone has been prosecuted in Franklin’s case.
Jimenez was a member of the Hobart Stars and had, on at least one occasion, been targeted for murder by CTU, investigators believe.
According to charging documents, when Jimenez and Bryant met following the Caribbean Festival in northwest DC, Bryant made “intimidating looks” at Jimenez and reached to his own waist showing that he was armed. Later Bryant confronted a witness and stated “tell your mans I’m trying to put in work,” which prosecutors believe meant that Bryant wanted Jimenez and his friends to know that he was ready for battle. And then Bryant walked away.
Bryant’s defense attorney, Michael Quillin, argued Wednesday that what happened next was self-defense.
Jimenez followed Bryant and two others then fired at them and ducked behind a car. One of Bryant’s friends fled, the other joined Bryant in returning gunfire at Jimenez, according to charging documents. Four people, including Jimenez, were shot. Foster died.
“If one person grits on another, that doesn’t authorize the other person to take out a pistol and begin firing,” Quillin said. “[Bryant] had a right to act in self-defense. He tried to protect his own person and perhaps even the people around him.”
Judge Diane Harris Epps disagreed.
“Both these two gentlemen are on opposing sides of a disagreement. The defendant had the full intention of engaging. Both equally participated,” she said.
In ruling that there was enough evidence to hold a preliminary hearing in the case, Epps sided with prosecutors who argued that the description of the shooting creates probable cause for an “urban warfare” prosecution.
Such a prosecution allows both Jimenez and Bryant to be held liable for Foster’s death, even if evidence shows that a bullet that could only have come from one of the men’s guns struck and killed Foster.
A preliminary hearing is scheduled for Bryant for July 25 at nine a.m. in Judge Jackson’s courtroom.
Jimenez is expected before Judge Jackson on July 18.
Charging documents in Bryant’s case are below.