A jury began deliberating Thursday in the first-degree murder case against Eugene Kelly. Much of the case hinges on the testimony of two police informants.
The two key witnesses testified Monday that they saw Eugene Kelly near the neighborhood where prosecutors say he shot two teens in 2011, killing one – 15-year-old Isaiah Daniel Harris.
Kelly, prosecutors argued, was frustrated his family did not want to visit his brother’s gravesite on Memorial Day, so he went to the neighborhood where his brother was killed and “took out his grief” by shooting two teens at 10:15 p.m. Kelly’s girlfriend testified he returned home at 11:30 that night after leaving for what he said was a cookout.
But a witness who testified Monday, said he talked to Kelly that night when Kelly approached him with a ski mask, riding his bike and talking about his brother’s death.
His eyes welling with tears on the stand, the witness recalled drinking a beer with a friend on his front porch when the shooting took place.
He said he repeatedly told Kelly, “Don’t get in no trouble, it’s rough out here.”
He added that when he went to give Kelly, who he had known for 20 years, a hug, he felt what he thought was body armor.
Kelly, according to the witness, left and went over to a dumpster to get a gun. Shortly after, the witness said he heard gunshots and went down New Jersey Avenue to see what had happened. He did not see Kelly shoot, but “I know it was him,” he said.
Another witness reported seeing someone who looked like Kelly biking away from the scene, looking over his shoulder, seconds after she heard four or five gunshots. Surveillance cameras from a school at 421 P St N.W. captured a man biking in that direction at 10:11 p.m. wearing a white shirt. Police received the first 911 calls reporting a shooting at 10:20 p.m.
The same evening, the witness, a former FBI informant called a police officer he knew and told him, “Hit me soon, these dudes Muslim have got plenty of guns.” In court, he clarified that younger men wanted to retaliate Harris’ death.
The next day, he said he spoke with the police and identified Kelly from a photo lineup.
Prosecutors also introduced evidence from cell towers showing Kelly was within areas near the crime scene at the time of Harris’ death. But Kenneth LaVictoire, an FBI supervisory special agent, said the crime scene and Kelly’s mother’s house were in an area directly on a border between two cell towers, making mapping Kelly’s location more difficult.
Kelly’s attorney, Jason Downs, sought to cast doubt on the witness’ testimony, noting that he had been diagnosed with schizophrenia, bipolar disorder and depression, and takes medication to prevent seizures. He said he hadn’t consumed the beer that night on his porch – knowing that if he had, it could have interacted with his medications.
Downs argued the man should have called police sooner, rather than waiting until a day later.
“Ain’t nobody here perfect,” the witness replied.
Homicide Watch DC editor Sam Pearson contributed to this report.