Authorities stop trying to arrest suspect in taxi holdups

September 18, 2012

Authorities have stopped trying to arrest a man suspected in a string of August taxi holdups in Northeast Washington — for now, at least.

D.C. Superior Court records show that the U.S. attorney’s office withdrew a motion, filed last week, that appealed a magistrate’s decision to dismiss a robbery charge against 19-year-old Miguel Demonis of Northeast. The magistrate had ruled that the victim’s identification of Demonis was insufficient.

On Tuesday, officials declined to say what changed their minds. Police said five robberies and attempted robberies along the Rhode Island Avenue corridor on Aug. 29 and 30 remain under investigation.

D.C. police have twice tried to link Demonis to the attacks and arrested him. A prosecutor declined to file charges in one instance, and the magistrate dismissed a separate robbery charge filed by police in a warrant.

Demonis’s attorney has not returned repeated calls seeking comment, including a call to his office Tuesday. The suspect’s aunt, who raised him since he was 7 years old, has said in an interview that her nephew proclaimed his innocence.

The attacks prompted police officers to flood the Edgewood community, and they thought they caught a break Aug. 31, after the latest robbery was reported. Officers chased a man, later identified as Demonis, and a 15-year-old and caught them hiding in a stairwell.

D.C. police publicized Demonis’s arrest. But prosecutors later declined to file charges, “pending further investigation,” and he was released. The status of the 15-year-old could not be learned Tuesday.

Police obtained an arrest warrant charging Demonis with another taxi robbery and arrested him Sept. 5. But at a preliminary hearing, a magistrate judge ruled that the victim chose Demonis from a photo array by eliminating eight other pictures, rendering his identification of Demonis too sketchy to support a criminal charge. Demonis was again released.

The U.S. attorney’s office filed to appeal the ruling but on Friday withdrew the motion. The one-paragraph court document does not give a reason for the decision.

“After additional review, the U.S. attorney’s office determined that more investigation was needed on this case,” spokesman Bill Miller said in an e-mailed statement. “The investigation is continuing. Beyond that, the office has no comment.”

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