A story in the Aug. 21 Metro section on the acquittal of Jayvon Marshman on murder and firearm charges incorrectly reported when he pleaded guilty to an unrelated firearm charge. He pleaded guilty to that charge several weeks before the July 2002 shooting that led to the murder and firearm charges. (Published 8/22/03)
A man accused of fatally shooting a rival gang member last summer to avenge an earlier slaying was acquitted yesterday in D.C. Superior Court.
After deliberating for several hours over two days, the jury cleared Jayvon Marshman, 22, in the killing of Thomas B. Holly, stunning prosecutors and Holly's relatives, who left the courtroom in tears.
Charged with first-degree murder, possession of a firearm during a crime of violence and carrying a pistol without a license, Marshman faced at least 30 years in prison if convicted. Instead, he was to be released last night from the D.C. jail, where he had been held while awaiting trial, his attorneys said.
"This is a great day for Mr. Marshman and his family," Julia Leighton, general counsel for the D.C. Public Defender Service, said in a statement. "Finally, with this trial, all of the evidence has been heard, and that evidence has vindicated Mr. Marshman. It was a tragedy that Mr. Holly was killed, and our sympathies go out to his family, but it was also a tragedy that the wrong man was charged with the crime."
Prosecutors said the slaying, on July 9, 2002, in an alley behind the 2200 block of Champlain Street NW, was part of a feud that left at least three people dead, all of them reputed members of two rival crews in Adams Morgan.
With the trial, which began last week before Judge Erik P. Christian, the U.S. attorney's office hoped to begin closing the book on a band of thugs who stoked fear in the Northwest Washington neighborhood.
Marshman reportedly belonged to a crew known as the 1-7 Mob, for its base area around 17th and Euclid streets NW. Holly, 22, who was known as "T.J.," was said to be part of a crew with no known name.
Holly, of the 1800 block of Kalorama Road NW, was shot as he sat in the driver's seat of his car, which was parked in the alley. At least 15 shots were fired, and he died instantly. The only person who testified to having seen the shooting was a 12-year-old boy, and evidently jurors did not believe his account or that of a 17-year-old girl who said she saw Marshman, gun in hand, fleeing the scene.
Marshman's attorney, Jonathan Rapping of the Public Defender Service, argued that the identifications were wrong and that his client was somewhere else at the time of the shooting. Marshman's sister testified that she had dropped him off at a bus stop in Northeast Washington around the time of the shooting.
Prosecutors believed they had the right man in Marshman, who pleaded guilty to an unrelated weapons charge not long after Holly's slaying.
"I accept their verdict," said the lead prosecutor, Assistant U.S. Attorney Thomas A. DiBiase. "I obviously disagree with it. But that's the way our system is designed. If I accept the verdict when I win cases, I certainly accept when I lose cases."
Standing in the corridor near the third-floor courtroom, Holly's relatives seemed dazed. "I'm shocked," said his sister, TaSha Douglas.
She could not understand, she said, how the jury had discounted the testimony of four people at the scene who said they saw some part of the crime. "So many people stepped up and put their lives on the line for my brother," she said.
Leighton said the witnesses had been misled. After the shooting, she said, investigators focused on Marshman, not arresting him but making him out to be a suspect.
"He got paraded in front of people in the neighborhood in a manner that suggested he was a suspect," Leighton said. "It doesn't take much to start a street rumor, and that's what happened here, and he spent a year in jail because of it."