Judge Ronna Beck found substantial probability Tuesday in the case against Chavez Myers, the 17-year-old who is suspected of stabbing and killing Olijawon Griffin inside the Woodley Park metro station Nov. 17.
The judge also found probable cause in the cases against three other teens who have been charged for their alleged role in the armed robbery and fight that preceded the fatal stabbing. Four other teens have been charged as juveniles in the robbery and assault.
At the hearing, prosecutors indicated that other homicide charges might be forthcoming, perhaps against some of the four men who are currently charged only in the armed robbery.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Kevin Flynn used the word “premeditated” to describe Chavez’ actions at least three times, and he suggested that he would ask a grand jury to indict Chavez on first-degree murder charges. Currently, Chavez is charged with second-degree murder.
According to charging documents, Myers was with a group of about a dozen black males at the McDonald’s in the 2400 block of 18th Street Northwest, when they came across Griffin, who was there with two others, shortly after midnight Saturday. Prosecutors say Chavez and others robbed Griffin of a jacket and a phone. Later that night, the two groups encountered one another inside the Metro. Griffin and his two friends then walked toward the Metro station, where they came across the same teenagers who had robbed him. They descended to the train platform and Griffin demanded his jacket back, at which point a fight broke out.
“Mr. Myers’ only intention was to take a fair fight and turn it into an grievous, tragic, fatally unfair fight,” Flynn said.
In an interview with detectives, Myers said he stabbed Griffin in self-defense.
During the preliminary hearing for Myers and three of the other teenagers, which lasted more than 12 hours and stretched over three days, prosecutors showed two video clips from surveillance cameras inside the Metro station on the morning that Griffin was killed.
The first clip showed Griffin and the two friends he was with descending the escalator to the station platform and approaching a group of the young men who had robbed him about 20 minutes earlier near an Exxon gas station in Adams Morgan. The video was shown only to the defendants, the lawyers and the judge to protect the identities of the juveniles who were involved.
According to detectives, the video then shows the men kicking, punching and stomping on Griffin’s friend, Isaac Chase.
MPD Detective Robert Arrington Jr. testified that he doesn’t believe that Griffin sought out the men who robbed him, but that Griffin, Griffin’s cousin and Chase happened upon them coincidentally in the Metro station and then Griffin approached the men to retrieve the items that had been taken from him.
The second video clip, only 15-seconds long, shows Griffin, now on the station’s mezzanine level, imploring several young men to fight him one-on-one.
“Come see me on the one,” Griffin can be heard saying.
According to prosecutors, Griffin began to square off against a man in a white T-shirt, who has still not been identified. Myers then approached Griffin from behind and, as Griffin turned towards him at the last second, he stabbed him once. The knife entered three inches above Griffin’s left nipple and punctured his heart.
“This decedent died a hero,” Flynn said of Griffin. “He was attempting to draw the people away who were assaulting his friend.”
Myers’ attorney, Janet Mitchell, argued that Myers, who admitted to having stabbed Griffin during an interview with police after his arrest, was acting in self-defense. According to one of the witnesses, Griffin was seen with a knife at the sight of the armed robbery.
Detective Arrington however testified that there was “no credible evidence” that Griffin was armed.
Beck ordered Myers held pending a grand jury investigation, saying that there were no conditions she could place on his release that would ensure the safety of the community.
Myers and the other defendants will appear again in court on Jan. 2 at 9:30 a.m. for a felony status hearing before Judge Beck.
Penny Ray contributed reporting.