The shooting death of 19-year-old Osman Al-Akbar in Columbia Heights was a robbery “gone bad,” according to the government’s evidence, but the defense attorney for one of the teens accused in the murder doesn’t buy that.
True, when Al-Akbar’s body was found in Columbia Heights on Aug. 17, he was without his wallet, but a family member had his wallet, defense attorney Arthur Ago said. And what Al-Akbar had of value, two rings and a cell phone, were found near his body.
“There is no indication that there was an attempted robbery,” Ago said, fighting the government’s assertion that because Al-Akbar wasn’t wearing his rings it must mean that he was robbed.
Offered the prosecutor, Michael Ortwein, “he didn’t have money. He didn’t have his wallet.”
So when he was robbed, Ortwein said, “he offered up his rings.”
At a preliminary hearing Friday, attorneys on both sides squared off on the motive behind Al-Akbar’s death. If a felony robbery was not the underlying motive in the young man’s death, then prosecutors could not charge Rashid Caviness-Bey with felony murder and would have to seek a different charge.
According to charging documents in the case, at about 1:30 a.m. on Aug. 17, an off-duty MPD officer heard several gunshots coming from the direction of the 2600 block of University Place. The officer walked in that direction and, in that block, saw two people standing on sidewalk and one person standing in the street. As the officer watched, the person in the street extended its arm downward and the officer heard a gunshot and saw a muzzle flash.
Al-Akbar was found suffering from gunshot wounds to his torso and head in the 2600 block of University Place NW. He died at the scene.
Two people matching the off-duty officer’s descriptions of suspects, now identified as Caviness-Bey and a 15-year-old juvenile, were found lying on the ground underneath a staircase near 15th and Fuller streets Northwest. Near the staircase, investigators found a gun that smelled as though it had been recently fired.
The juvenile is awaiting trial in juvenile court. On Friday Judge Thomas Motley ordered Caviness-Bey held on the charge of felony murder.