WASHINGTON (DC News Now) — A DC judge overseeing the first court appearance of a man accused of fatally shooting a 13-year-old, nearly one month ago, said she believed the prosecution will likely defeat the man’s case.
Jason Lewis appeared in court Tuesday afternoon, hours after metro police said the 41-year-old city employee turned himself in.
Video evidence from several surveillance cameras describes a more complete picture of the circumstances leading up to the fatal shooting of Karon Blake, according to police Chief Robert Contee during a press conference Tuesday morning, announcing the charges.
“We wanted to be methodical. We wanted to be correct and not make any assumptions. We wanted to follow the evidence. There was somewhat of a self-defense claim that needed to be overcome,” said Contee.
Lewis told officers he heard noises outside his Northeast condo and saw several people breaking into cars, according to the arrest warrant and affidavit.
Still photographs taken from surveillance video show several people peering into vehicles with illuminated flashlights, and witness statements indicate they heard noises from the street at the time.
The photographs also show Lewis emerge on to his home patio and look in the direction of the group of young people, including Lewis.
“There was no threat to him [Blake] at that point. He could have just walked inside his home,” said DC Superior Court Judge Hon. Judith Pipe during Lewis’ arraignment, adding that she believes there is no basis Lewis had reasonable fear.
The affidavit said Lewis first engaged with the young people and fired a shot toward the car they arrived in.
Contee said Blake ran toward the car as it reversed through an alleyway, but the teen ran away from the scene. Lewis then fired a shot toward him, and the bullet struck him.
Judge Pipe said video evidence shows Blake never came on Lewis’ property or that he was armed, adding that Lewis was the first aggressor, loses his right to self-defense and believes the prosecutor will succeed in the trial.
Lewis pleaded not guilty during the arraignment.
The American court system says defendants are innocent until proven guilty.
Lewis’s defense said the accused shooter has no criminal history, is a community man and pointed out that he performed CPR officers arrived at the scene, where he signaled them to come to Blake’s aid.
Dionna Maria Lewis, a trial attorney in DC, said “the background of the suspect or defendant is important, and it’s also considered for penalty purposes, in terms of the recommendations for sentencing.”
Lewis said that what’s seen in the video evidence may be critical to how court arguments proceed.
“Previously, there was some murmuring amongst the community about whether or not there may have been a legitimate self-defense claim. It doesn’t mean that the defense may not still raise a self-defense claim, whether or not a jury finds that credible or, you know, if there’s a plea in this case, we won’t know,” she said.
Lewis said the case may resolve faster if prosecutors reach a plea deal with the defense, but if the case proceeds to trial, the matter may take one year.
Lewis is due back in court on February 13th.
DC News Now Reporter Daniel Hamburg contributed to this reporting.