A 26-year-old Maryland man was ordered held without bail yesterday on a murder charge stemming from the May 2 death of a musician who fell 14 stories from his Northwest Washington apartment.
Sean C. Stout was arrested about 10 p.m. Wednesday at his home in Damascus. He is accused of killing his friend Richard Galla, a 43-year-old pianist for the Washington School of Ballet.
In charging papers, prosecutors said Galla's fall followed an argument in his apartment in the 4200 block of Cathedral Avenue NW. Stout grabbed Galla's throat and the men pushed and shoved each other, the documents said.
As the fight grew more intense, Stout slashed at Galla with a medallion shaped like a knife, cutting his friend's hands, the charging papers stated. Galla retreated to his balcony and stepped over the railing, screaming, "Help me," the papers said, as Stout continued to slash with the medallion.
After he was cut above the left eye, Galla fell to his death at 4 a.m., the charging papers said. The D.C. medical examiner's office ruled the death a homicide on May 7 after determining that some of his injuries were not consistent with a fall.
During a brief hearing in D.C. Superior Court yesterday, Stout stood quietly and spoke only to his attorney, Christopher McKee of the D.C. Public Defender Service.
McKee said the evidence outlined in the charging papers did not meet the threshold for second-degree murder and urged Magistrate Judge Hugh O Stevenson to release Stout.
"We would argue that at best, it supports manslaughter," McKee said of the charging documents.
Stevenson denied McKee's request, saying there was sufficient evidence of murder and calling Galla's killing "a heinous crime."
Without providing a public explanation, the judge granted a defense request that Stout be placed in protective custody and on the mental health floor of the jail. He is due back in court Thursday for a preliminary hearing.
Stout's parents attended the hearing and declined to comment as they left the courtroom. According to court papers, Stout has been unemployed for two years.
Galla, who played piano for the Lesbian & Gay Chorus of Washington, was a talented musician and dedicated employee of the ballet school, according to colleagues. He worked at the school for 16 years.