A District man who prosecutors said doused his pregnant girlfriend with gasoline before setting her on fire will remain in jail as investigators continue gathering evidence.
Laquinn Phillips, 34, of Southeast Washington, was charged last month with attempted first- and second-degree murder, arson and assault in connection with a fire that severely injured a Prince George’s County woman and caused her to deliver her child prematurely.
On Tuesday, a judge found probable cause to sustain the charges against Phillips and gave prosecutors another 30 days to continue their investigation.
“We have every confidence that we have a very strong case,” Prince George’s County State’s Attorney Angela Alsobrooks said after the hearing.
On the morning of Sept. 8, police said the victim fled her apartment building in the 1400 block of Elkwood Lane in Capitol Heights looking for help and heard from witnesses that she said her boyfriend had set her on fire.
The woman remains in critical condition, according to prosecutors. Her daughter, born seven weeks early, was to be released Tuesday from the hospital, Alsobrooks said after the hearing for Phillips.
Relatives and friends of Phillips and the woman were in court for the nearly 45-minute hearing. Phillips, who entered the courtroom handcuffed and in an orange jumpsuit, made no eye contact with anyone.
Prince George’s County police detective Paul Dougherty, who responded to the scene, testified that the victim’s apartment was “totally destroyed because of the fire.” Investigators determined that the fire was set using gasoline, he said.
During the hearing, Phillips’s attorney argued that police lacked direct evidence linking his client to the crime. J. Wyndal Gordon told the judge that the case against his client was “shoddy” and asserted that Phillips wasn’t there at the time of the fire.
“This investigation is extremely poor,” Gordon said after the hearing.
In court, Gordon questioned why police were relying on witness statements and not the direct word of the victim. Outside the courthouse, Alsobrooks said the victim is unable to communicate with investigators because of her injuries.
“This defendant intended to silence her,” Alsobrooks said. “She is fighting for her life. She is still fighting every day to survive to be with her baby.”
Gordon has previously said his client was about to start working for a local fire department and has no previous record.
Doug Buchanan, a D.C. fire department spokesman, said Phillips had been scheduled to join a recruit class.