A man charged with slaying the mother of his two children last Friday had been arrested the previous day for allegedly breaking into the woman's apartment and holding her at gunpoint, but the U.S. attorney's office dropped the charges because the incident was considered a "domestic dispute," according to court documents, police and prosecutors.
Michael Anthony Scott, 22, was arrested Monday in North Carolina and charged in a D.C. Superior Court warrant with first-degree murder in the death of Leedonyell Williams, 24, who was shot about 11 p.m. Friday in a stairwell of her apartment building at 4327 Third St. SE, according to police and court documents. Scott was extradited to Washington Tuesday and is now being held without bond at D.C. Jail.
According to a police affidavit filed in support of the warrant, Scott had been arrested the day before the shooting and charged with first-degree burglary while armed after he broke into Williams' apartment and "told Ms. Williams that he was going to kill her."
However, when Scott was taken by police to D.C. Superior Court, prosecutors decided to dismiss the case because it appeared to be a domestic dispute involving custody of a child, court sources said. In addition, they said, no gun was found.
Several sources called the case a tragedy and described it as a prosecutor's worst nightmare come true. "It's just one of those horrible, bizarre things," one said. "You deal with a thousand of these kinds of cases and 999 of them turn out as you expect them to: just a domestic problem."
U.S. Attorney Joseph E. diGenova said he was reviewing the case and had no comment. Other sources familiar with the case would discuss it only on the condition that they not be identified.
Naomi Bush, Williams' mother, disputed the characterization of the alleged break-in as a domestic dispute, saying that the incident was far more serious and that she and her daughter who lived together had previously complained to police about being bothered by Scott, who is the father of Williams' two small children. She said Williams and Scott were not married.
Williams told her mother she and her children, Mike Anthony Scott, 2, and Christopher Donnell Williams, 7 months, were playing in a back bedroom of their third-floor apartment when Scott climbed to the outside balcony and entered the apartment June 5.
"When she turned around, he was standing there with a gun pointed at her head," according to Bush, who said her daughter called her later to tell of the incident. Bush said Scott ordered Williams to the dining room, where he "sat at the dining room table where he could see the door and said that he was going to shoot me when I came home, kill her and then kill himself."
Bush said her daughter told her that Scott became restless and left the house, taking his son Michael with him and warning Williams that "if you tell anyone what I did, I'll kill the baby."
According to a source who has seen police reports filed in the alleged burglary, Williams called police about 2:45 p.m. and not long after Scott was found at his home, 3210 Fifth St. SE, and the baby was returned to his mother unharmed. The source said Scott was arrested after police ran his name through a computer and discovered he was wanted on a traffic bench warrant for failure to appear in a traffic case.
Williams did not appear at the presentment later that night, sources said, and they decided to dismiss the case because it appeared to be a domestic dispute over child custody.
Bush said police did not ask her or her daughter to be present at the court hearing for Scott. "We didn't know nothing about it," she said. Bush said that her daughter learned of Scott's release last Friday when she telephoned the court and was told Scott was out of jail.
Later that day, according to Bush, her daughter left the apartment with a friend about 11 p.m., and moments after they left, Bush said she heard two shots. She said she ran to the stairwell and saw her daughter lying on the stairs a floor below.
"She said, 'Mom, I've been shot. I'm shot, mom.' Those were the last words I ever heard from her," Bush said. Williams was her only child.
Bush said problems between her daughter and Scott began a few months ago, and she soon stopped seeing him.
However, she said, Scott continued to bother them. Bush said that both she and her daughter, on the advice of police, had filed complaints with the Citizens Complaint Center, a court-run center that tries to resolve domestic problems without prosecution.
Sources said yesterday the U.S. attorney's office is generally very reluctant to get involved in domestic disputes where there is no physical sign of abuse and no weapon has been found. One source said that in these cases the complaining witness and defendant often "kiss and make up" before the case comes to court or come into court and say the assault did not occur. Successful prosecution of such cases is rare, sources said.
Another factor in this case, other sources said, may have been that a civil hearing was scheduled in the near future involving allegations about harassments. According to one source, Williams was seeking a civil protection order barring Scott from coming near her. One source said prosecutors may have felt the civil proceedings could resolve the couple's differences.
Another source said one factor that would have favored going forward with the burglary case was that Scott has charges pending on possession of marijuana and PCP. The most recently filed pretrial services report, filed in the murder case, says Scott failed to comply with his conditions of release in the drug cases by not reporting once a week to the pretrial services agency for urine testing.
Other sources pointed out, though, that Scott was employed as a plumber, had community ties and no history of violent crimes -- all factors that most likely would have led to his release the next day. The sources emphasized that they were not trying to make excuses for the release, but that the shooting may have occurred regardless.