Mark K. Makki, the 23-year-old Potomac man accused of killing his mother, was released from jail on bond last night after prosecutors acknowledged that a preliminary DNA test does not link him to his mother's body at the time of the crime.
It was a welcome piece of news for the Makki family, which has proclaimed the innocence of victim Shohreh Seyed-Makki's only son. Relatives learned about the test result shortly before midnight Wednesday from the suspect's defense attorney.
"It was crazy; it was like Christmas," said a member of the Makki family who was present when the family got a call and was listening through a speaker phone. "Everyone started calling everyone they knew. We broke the news to everyone."
District Court Judge Patricia L. Mitchell ordered Mark Makki released on $250,000 bond, a reversal of her decision at a hearing Tuesday. She noted the significance of the exculpatory DNA test but also told the suspect: "There still remains evidence against you."
She said he cannot leave Montgomery County except to attend his mother's funeral Saturday in Virginia.
Makki is charged with first-degree murder and robbery in the slaying of his mother, who was killed Oct. 6 in the family home. Investigators focused on him after hearing what they described as contradictory statements from Mark Makki and his girlfriend about his whereabouts on the day of the crime. In justifying his arrest, homicide detectives also cited an unexplained wound on Mark Makki's body, an empty envelope that had contained cash and a long-standing feud between Mark Makki and his mother over the suspect's girlfriend, Aramis Mizani.
Investigators made no mention of blood or any other type of DNA sample collected from the suspect and his belongings in the charging document filed to arrest him. But Assistant State's Attorney Deborah Armstrong cited bloody shoelaces collected from the suspect's shoes during Tuesday's bond hearing. She declined to discuss the shoelaces yesterday or to reveal specifics of the DNA tests.
The Makki family member interviewed yesterday provided The Washington Post with a detailed account of the events that led up to Mark Makki's arrest from the family's viewpoint. He asked that his name be withheld because he said he fears retaliation from law enforcement officials.
According to the relative's account, on the day she was killed, Seyed-Makki had breakfast with her husband, Khosrow S. Makki, and a mutual friend, Noralldin Rabbani. Makki, a surgeon, left the house about 9 a.m. for his Greenbelt office. The victim and Rabbani left the house through the back porch and went for a long walk. The Makkis were considering an addition to their house, and Rabbani, a construction expert, was there to discuss the details.
When the two returned to the house, the front door was wide open -- not alarming to them because the Makkis sometimes left the door unlocked. Rabbani left.
Seyed-Makki spoke on the phone for roughly 40 minutes with one of her sisters-in-law. They discussed a sore subject for Seyed-Makki: the object of his son's affection.
She then had a brief phone conversation with her husband between 12:15 and 12:30 p.m. They agreed to meet later at his office.
When he called his wife later that afternoon to confirm their meeting, no one answered the phone. Concerned, Makki asked Rabbani to stop by the house. Rabbani found the front door closed. He rang the doorbell. There was no response. When he knocked, the door swung open. The house was silent. He called out her name repeatedly as he stepped inside. He walked toward the foyer, turned around and found her badly beaten body lying on the kitchen floor. The man ran outside and called 911 and then Makki.
By the time family members arrived at the house, it was surrounded by police. Mark Makki was the last immediate relative to show up.
When he learned of his mother's death, Mark Makki began to cry. He slammed keys against the pavement and began swearing loudly, then banged his cell phone against the cement, too.
Police approached him. They soon asked Khosrow Makki, his daughter, Amanda, 27, and Mark to accompany them to police headquarters. The family left before midnight and checked into a hotel. Mark Makki spent the night at Mizani's house. Khosrow Makki, Amanda and Mark were asked to come back to police headquarters a few times over the weekend.
Officers also interviewed Mizani, who has dated Mark Makki for more than five years. Police said she told detectives that Mark Makki had not spent Wednesday night and Thursday morning at her home -- a statement that shattered his alibi. Mark Makki told detectives his girlfriend didn't recall they spent the night together "due to her drug use," according to the charging document. The Makki family member said Mizani takes strong pain medication for a serious back ailment.
Mizani has declined requests for an interview.
The Makkis were asked to go to police headquarters again Sunday. Detectives asked Mark Makki to stay behind after they spoke to his father and sister. They were not allowed to pick him up again. Detectives told Khosrow Makki that his son had been arrested. Detectives explained to relatives that they had tried to take Mark Makki "out of the picture" but found credible evidence to suggest he killed his mother.
The relative said police officers asked some Makki family members yesterday to provide mouth swabs -- a common way to collect DNA samples. The relative said the move appears to show that investigators are widening the scope of the investigation, and he criticized them for not doing so earlier. He was also critical of the robbery charge, citing what he called weak evidence in the charging document and noting that money was plentiful in the household and readily available to Mark Makki.
Lt. Eric Burnett, a Montgomery police spokesman, would not comment on the mouth swabs, saying he cannot discuss evidence in pending cases. He defended the department's investigation and said detectives have not made mistakes in the case.
"We have not and will never knowingly have someone in custody if we feel he is not responsible for a crime," Burnett said. "He was arrested for the murder of his mother, and we are working under this premise."