Prosecutors in the murder trial of Rashid Caviness-Bey say that Osman Al-Akbar’s death was the result of a robbery gone awry, which Caviness-Bey and two others planned together. Defense attorneys say, though, that Caviness-Bey had nothing to do with the attempted robbery, and that his presence near the crime scene on the morning of the murder was a mere coincidence.
These were the closing arguments jurors heard Thursday afternoon.
Caviness-Bey is charged with first-degree premeditated murder, felony murder, armed robbery and related weapons offenses in connection with the August 2011 shooting death of 19-year-old Osman Al-Akbar.
Al-Akbar was shot and killed in the 2600 block of University Place Northwest around 1:30 a.m. August 17, 2011. A medical examiner testified at trial that Al-Akbar suffered four gunshot wounds: three “independently survivable” wounds to the back, and one wound to the face. The face wound contained small gunpowder abrasions consistent with a gun being fired within two to three feet.
One witness testified at trial that while looking out his kitchen window he saw three black males with “braids and dreadlocks” walk toward the scene of the crime with “scarves” wrapped around their heads; one of the men was adjusting a pistol in his front waistband. Moments later, the witness heard four gunshots. Two of the men then fled the scene and hid in an alley off Fuller Street NW. Along the way, the suspects tossed some clothing in a nearby trashcan, the witness testified.
Thomas Sullivan of the Metropolitan Police Department testified that after arriving at the crime scene, he and three other police officers searched the area and found Caviness-Bey and a juvenile suspect hiding in a nearby alley. Upon being questioned, Caviness-Bey told police a fake name, Assistant U.S. Attorney Shana Fulton told the court Thursday.
“Why would you do that, if you had nothing to do with what happened?” Fulton said during closing arguments. “The defendant was part of the attempted armed robbery, whether he wanted Al-Akbar dead or not.”
The officers also found a revolver and a semiautomatic handgun hidden underneath a rat trap at the top of a stairway near the alley where Caviness-Bey and the juvenile were hiding.
MPD investigators were unable to match fingerprints and DNA recovered from the scene to either of the suspects, but a black vinyl jacket found in the alley was positively attributed to Caviness-Bey.
Arthur Ago, Caviness-Bey’s defense attorney, argued Thursday that the government’s theory was speculative, and that the jacket provided no evidence that an armed robbery took place or that Caviness-Bey was involved in Al-Akbar’s murder.
“The government is asking you to take a leap of faith,” Ago told the jury. “You have to demand more from the government as to what happened on that block.”
Jury deliberations will resume Friday morning.
Megan Arellano and Ivan Natividad contributed reporting.