Judge Robert Morin found substantial probability Thursday that Jermaine Brown is responsible for the death of 31-year-old Randolph Scott Harris Jr. Brown, 34, remains held while a grand jury investigates the case.
Personnel from the D.C. Fire Department found Harris inside his apartment around 6:20 a.m. July 26, suffering from severe burns and multiple gunshot wounds; there were no signs of forced entry. Harris was later pronounced dead at MedStar Washington Hospital Center.
Metropolitan Police Detective Gus Giannakoulias testified at a preliminary hearing Thursday that when the firefighters arrived on scene they found Harris sitting in a wicker chair. Underneath the chair were clothes, blankets and pillows, which had been set on fire. And Harris had suffered three gunshot wounds: one to his right arm, one to his right hand, and one to the head. Police also found lighters in the apartment, Giannakoulias said, but there was no direct evidence as to how the fire was started.
Charging documents in the case say police recovered several empty iPhone and iPad boxes from Harris’ bedroom. The boxes were marked with serial numbers of the items that should have been inside.
Giannakoulias said Thursday that while police were investigating the apartment, a man approached and handed them a black plastic bag containing an iPad, two iPhones and an iPod Touch. Police determined that the serial numbers of one of the phones and the iPad matched the serial numbers on the empty boxes in Harris’ apartment.
The man told police he obtained the bag from people who lived in an apartment in the 400 block of Evarts Street Northeast.
When police interviewed residents of the apartment on Evarts Street, one woman told them that Brown gave her the bag to hold a little after 8:00 a.m. July 26, Giannakoulias said.
When Brown was later questioned by police, he said he found the bag of electronics in the hallway of a building in the 1000 block of Euclid Street. He said he dropped the bag off at the witness’s house so they could sell the items and split the money.
Charging documents in the case also include several different accounts from Brown as to how he obtained that bag. But Brown has always maintained that he was never inside Harris’ apartment on the morning of the murder, and police have found no forensic evidence linking Brown to the apartment, Giannakoulias said Thursday.
Brown also told police that he stole Harris’ silver Mercedes Benz, but that he had parked it along Kendall Street Northeast. Giannakoulias said Thursday that the vehicle was found on 22nd Street NE about a week after the murder; it had been set on fire and the license plates were lying on the ground next to the car.
The case is schedule for a felony status conference January 10, 2014.