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Hamburger shooting trial turned on testimony of grieving mother, young boy

In the end, it came down to the eyewitness testimony of a grieving mother and a 10-year-old boy.

Tuesday, after about a day of deliberations, a D.C. Superior Court jury acquitted Terrance J. Jones, 20, in the 2008 shooting of Tanganika Stanton as she stood outside her apartment building in the 4900 block of Grant Street NE eating a hamburger.

Readers have asked several questions about the case involving the fatal shooting of the 18-year-old Northeast Washington woman police said was shot to death after Stanton and her mother refused to make Jones a hamburger.

Defense attorneys said police arrested the wrong man and highlighted portions of testimonies of two key witnesses during the week-long trial.

One witness who testified, Stanton’s mother, was shot in the foot in the gunfire. She said the shooter, who she had never seen before, wore long dreadlocks. But Jones never wore dreadlocks: His wore his hair short, twists that, unlike dreadlocks, can be easily unraveled.

Stanton’s mother said one of the last things her daughter said to her, was “Mom, he’s back and he has a gun.”

Jones's attorneys were also able to get a 10-year-old boy, who prosecutors said was an eyewitness to the fatal shooting while riding his bike, to say that he did not see the shooting -- but had only heard the gunfire because he was around the corner.

Prosecutor Jennifer Kerkhoff asked the boy again about what he had seen and he again said he had witnessed the shooting. But by then, the jury had already heard the boy’s testimony change.

Prosecutors still hailed the boy as courageous because he came forward to tell police what he saw when many adults who witness crime, especially homicides, fail to do so.

The boy’s mother said the boy has been traumatized since the shooting. His grades have suffered, she said, and he rarely goes outside to play.

-- Keith L. Alexander

By Washington Post Editors  |  April 14, 2010; 12:14 PM ET
Categories:  From the Courthouse , Homicide , Keith L. Alexander , Reader Questions , The District , Updates  
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DC residents deserve their violent crime rate. I am happy for them.

Posted by: john_bruckner | April 14, 2010 12:27 PM | Report abuse

From the beginning you knew the government didn't really have a good witnesses and to put the 9 year old on the stand was the worse. The guy probably did do it and knows he got away with one, but "street justice" is cruel and never forgets...

Posted by: PublicEnemy1 | April 14, 2010 12:32 PM | Report abuse

To discredit an eyewitness because she described hair as dreadlocks and he had twist is unbelievable. If the hair is separated it could have been plaits. The point is the hair was not cut. Now another killer is in the street coming to someones neighborhood. Does the court want to bring the death penalty back and we the people be in agreement after so many innocent people are dead?

Posted by: sadiyahbrown | April 14, 2010 1:01 PM | Report abuse

Alright Alexander. thanks for posting this 2nd article because the first one was almost completely devoid of actual was really more of a plea to people's emotions (which seems to have worked judging by people's reactions)....clearly Alexander decided the defendant was guilty.

To me, it seems the prosecution was leaning pretty heavily on a 10 year old whose story seems to have switched around a few times, but then again I didn't sit through the whole trial, so it's difficult to say. Guilty or not, the prosecution has a duty to meet it's burden and it doesn't seem they accomplished that in this case.

On a side note, I don't think Alexander met his responsibilty either (in writing such a weak first article). The media's responsibility shouldn't be taken lightly.

In any case, very sad story...I feel horrible for the family of the woman who died.

Posted by: tuckertom12 | April 14, 2010 1:28 PM | Report abuse

A hamburger? The savagery of these people never ceases to amaze me.

Posted by: savethepcbs | April 14, 2010 2:43 PM | Report abuse

Never wore dreadlocks? Says who? The defendant?

Scumbag defense lawyers need to start following truth, rather than twisting stories into wiener packages. Time for street justice to come back into vogue.

Posted by: DannyMSnyder | April 14, 2010 3:36 PM | Report abuse

DC residents deserve their violent crime rate. I am happy for them.

Posted by: john_bruckner | April 14, 2010 12:27 PM | Report abuse
He didn't get away with it, it will come back to get him hopefully he will not take anyone else out.

On a nicer note - Hey John, you are the best. Thanks for noticing that our crime rate is the lowest it has been since 1960 actually. We may not even break 100 this year, it's 26 so far. Not bad DC, we are getting there, and thanks John for noticing. He was being a smart azz I beleive but in doing so he forgot to check his facts.

Let's make that number go even lower.

Posted by: love2much SE | April 14, 2010 3:44 PM | Report abuse

It occurs to me that the young boy may not have understood what "witness" meant. He may not have equated it with actually seeing. He was there, he heard it. When he said that he did not see it because he was around the corner, is a clue that that is what he meant.

It was not the dredlocks versus twists that was significant. The woman testified that he had LONG dredlocks.

Posted by: esquirexii | April 14, 2010 4:36 PM | Report abuse

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