Judge Russell Canan found probable cause Friday that Demonta Chappell was responsible for the October 2012 shooting death of 26-year-old Stevann Moorer. Canan also ordered him held while a grand jury investigates the case.
“Inconsistencies aside, there’s reason to believe that the defendant committed these crimes,” Canan told the court.
Chappell, 21, is charged with second-degree murder in connection with Moorer’s death.
According to charging documents, several witnesses told police that they saw Chappell shoot Moorer in the head and then stand over his body and fire several more shots; one of those witnesses flagged down police shortly after the incident.
The shooting occurred in the 500 block of Parkland Place Southeast, near Malcolm X Park, on Oct. 27, 2012.
Metropolitan Police Detective Ray Shields testified at the preliminary hearing Friday and said that the witnesses reported that there were a lot of people in the park that Saturday evening, and some of the witnesses had been drinking alcohol.
The description of the shooter, as provided by the witnesses, varied slightly, Shields testified.
One witness said the shooter was wearing a hat; another witness described the shooter as wearing a hoodie over his head. A third witness said the shooter was wearing a white cap and sweatshirt; and yet another witness described the shooter as wearing a light-colored shirt and jacket.
Between Oct. and Dec. 2012, five witnesses spoke with police about Moorer’s death, and none of them positively identified Chappell as the shooter. But during the first week of the new year, a sixth witness told detectives that he had stood within ten feet of the shooting when it happened, and knew without a doubt who the shooter was.
Detective Shields testified Friday that the witness was browsing a social media site sometime in December when it came across a picture of the shooter. The witness then saved the photograph in a cell phone and took it to police who identified the person as Chappell, Shields said.
Chappell’s appointed defense attorney, Chris Roberts, questioned Shields on why the witness waited two months before speaking with police.
“The witness has to live in the area and is scared for its life,” Shields testified.
The witness told detectives that around 9 p.m. on the night of the shooting, Moorer and Chappell were walking westbound on Parkland Place SE. According to Shields, the witness said they suddenly heard a gunshot and turned to see Chappell firing a gun at Moorer’s head. The witness said that after Moorer fell, Chappell stood over him and fired several more shots.
Moorer died at the hospital shortly before midnight.
According to the witness, Chappell then ran south through an alley towards Raleigh Street SE. The witness described the shooter as wearing a hoodie, grey jacket, a cap with white on the head cover, blue jeans and Michael Jordan sneakers, Shields testified.
A search warrant was later issued for the residence that Chappell listed as his home; no weapons nor ammunition of any kind were recovered. The sneakers, hoodie, and hat that the shooter was supposedly wearing were never recovered either.
“No male clothing of any kind was found,” Shields told the court.
A status hearing is scheduled for April 26.