The Washington Post

District man found guilty in 2011 fatal shooting of cousin over money dispute

A D.C. Superior Court jury found a District man guilty Wednesday in the 2011 shooting death of his cousin in a dispute over money.

After an eight-day trial, it took the jury only a few hours to find Charles Coates, 43, guilty of second-degree murder in the killing of his cousin, Eddie Leonard, 32. Authorities said the two men got into an argument on Feb. 20, 2011, and that Coates later that evening lured Leonard to the alley behind the 400 block of 24th Street NE, then shot him once in the head with a .380-caliber handgun.

During the trial, Coates took the the witness stand and said he began running, not realizing he had the gun in his hand when it went off, he said. Authorities said Coates never returned to check on Leonard or call emergency personnel. Coates also admitted that he lied to family members and police about the initial details of the shooting. Coates was arrested two months after the shooting. He testified that he did not attend Leonard’s funeral because family members had begun blaming him for Leonard’s death. Leonard was the son of Coates’s first cousin.

Coates faces 13 to 46 years at sentencing, which is scheduled Dec. 14 before Judge William M. Jackson.

Keith Alexander covers crime, specifically D.C. Superior Court cases for The Washington Post. He has covered dozens of crime stories from Banita Jacks, the Washington woman charged with killing her four daughters, to the murder trial of slain federal intern Chandra Levy.

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