The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

Man wanted in Popeyes killing had shut off phone, social media to avoid police, prosecutors said

The man charged in the fatal stabbing of a Popeyes customer in Maryland said he was not the initial aggressor in the incident, according to his attorney. (Lynh Bui/TWP)

The man charged in the fatal stabbing of a customer who reportedly cut to the front of a line at a Popeyes restaurant had turned off his phone and social media accounts in an attempt to evade law enforcement before his arrest, prosecutors said.

The allegations about Ricoh McClain’s efforts to elude police emerged Friday during his first court appearance in Prince George’s County District Court, where a judge ordered him to remain in jail without bond.

McClain, 30, of District Heights, Md., was arrested nine days after police say he killed Kevin Tyrell Davis, 28.

McClain has been charged with first- and second-degree murder, but his attorney Thomas C. Mooney suggested McClain was inappropriately charged.

“I don’t believe my client to be the initial aggressor in this case,” said Mooney, adding that his client also was injured in the incident.

McClain’s wife and two young children also were in the crowded restaurant, the “last place” a person would commit a premeditated murder, Mooney said during Friday’s bail review hearing.

Pr. George’s police arrest suspect in slaying outside Maryland Popeyes restaurant

Davis was fatally stabbed at a Popeyes in Oxon Hill, Md., on the night of Nov. 4, the day after the fast-food restaurant rereleased its popular chicken sandwich.

Davis is seen on surveillance video cutting the line for customers waiting to buy the sandwiches over the course of 15 minutes, according to Prince George’s County police. When Davis reached the counter, McClain confronted him and the two got into a verbal altercation that spilled into the parking lot, police said.

“While exiting the store, the male Suspect can be seen brandishing a sharp object in his right hand,” charging documents state. “Once outside, the male Suspect, immediately swings the sharp object at the Decedent, stabbing him one time in the torso.”

McClain fled the scene in a car, charging documents state. A Prince George’s County police officer reviewing video of the altercation identified McClain. The officer had at least three interactions with McClain “during the course of fulfilling his duties as a police officer over the past year,” charging documents said.

McClain was captured Nov. 13 after investigators tracked him to a home in Capitol Heights, Md., police said.

McClain and Davis did not know each other before the incident, said County Police Chief Hank Stawinski, who decried the killing as “pointless” and “shocking.” Davis’s family and friends said they did not believe that the fight was over a chicken sandwich and called the killing as “senseless.”

Jonathon Church, head of the homicide unit for the Prince George’s County State’s Attorney’s Office, said McClain was wanted on an open warrant for driving without a driver's license at the time of the incident. Church also said in court that McClain has several criminal convictions, including cases that involve firearms.

“He certainly does pose a danger to the community,” Church said in arguing McClain should not be released on bond.

McClain is scheduled to appear in court again on Dec. 17.

Mooney said McClain “has very viable” defenses, but did not offer details.

“He looks forward to his day in court,” Mooney said.

Police arrest alleged ‘Potomac River Rapist’ linked to attacks in Maryland and Georgetown

No federal charges for U.S. Park Police officers in shooting of Bijan Ghaisar

Local newsletters: Local headlines (8 a.m.) | Afternoon Buzz (4 p.m.)

Like PostLocal on Facebook | Follow @postlocal on Twitter | Latest local news