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Men held after chilling video shown

Washington Post editors

Prosecutors played a chilling video in court Friday showing two men robbing a check-cashing store on Benning Road and fatally shooting the son of the store owner after a scuffle.

The video, and accompanying narration by a city police detective, prompted a D. C. Superior Court judge to order the two District men charged in the killing held without bond until trial.

Judge Gerald I. Fisher ordered Gregory Trotter, 58, and Ernest Pee Jr. 49, both of Southeast, held in connection with the fatal shooting death of Prabhjot Singh, 30. Both men are charged with first-degree felony murder in the June 17 robbery of Singh’s check-cashing store in the 2300 block of Benning Road NE.

During Friday’s hearing, Assistant U.S. Attorney Deborah Sines played a grainy security video that authorities said showed Trotter and Pee following Singh’s father into the store about 10 a.m. Both men were wearing masks and carrying guns, and yelled “This is a hold up,” witnesses later told police.

Because the quality of the video was poor, Metropolitan police homicide detective Darryl Richmond offered the judge a narrative of the scenes in the video.

The video showed one of the suspects, whom Richmond identified as Trotter, grabbing one of the male customers. Singh ran from behind the counter and tried to intervene. The suspect and Singh wrestled outside of the store, and the suspect shot Singh once in the face. During the scuffle, the suspect’s baseball cap and cell phone went flying. Detectives recovered those items and the phone was later traced back to Trotter, police said.

As Singh’s motionless body lay outside the store, the shooter than went inside. He and his partner, whom Richmond identified as Pee, robbed the store of about $12,000 before fleeing. Singh’s father, who sat quietly in the courtroom with other relatives, was severely beaten during the robbery. After the suspects fled, the video showed Singh’s father running outside and falling on top of his son.

Trotter and Pee, both shackled and wearing prison uniforms, sat in the jury box so they and their attorneys could watch the video.

The men’s attorneys argued that the witnesses who identified their clients did not have an accurate account. One witness identified the taller suspect, whom police said was Trotter, as being between 22 and 24 years old.

But police said the cell phone and the cap belonged to Trotter. Richmond said he could identify the men in the video by the shape of their bodies and the complexion of their skin, although the men’s noses and mouths were covered by their masks.

-- Keith L. Alexander

By Washington Post editors  |  August 20, 2010; 3:38 PM ET
Categories:  From the Courthouse , Homicide , Keith L. Alexander , The District  
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Comments

Please bury them under the jail. I am sick and tired of low lifes of all colors thinking it is ok to take from hard working people. Vigilante justice I say

Posted by: bigheadbull2 | August 20, 2010 5:03 PM | Report abuse

Guessing this isn't either of these fine upstanding citizen's brush with the law given their ages.
Crime rate is probably going to drop with these 2 whiz kids off the streets.

Posted by: BigDaddy651 | August 20, 2010 5:40 PM | Report abuse

Guessing this isn't either of these fine upstanding citizen's first brush with the law given their ages.
Crime rate is probably going to drop with these 2 whiz kids off the streets.

Posted by: BigDaddy651 | August 20, 2010 5:40 PM | Report abuse

Let's dust off Ol'Sparky

Posted by: pedro3 | August 20, 2010 9:09 PM | Report abuse

Bring back public hangings, and hold them in a football or baseball stadium where thousands could witness the activities and make it mandatory for all juvenile offenders !! We could sell tickets, hot dogs, peanuts, Etc. to cover the costs!! If one person is touched by the process and thinks twice before killing someone it would be well worth the Bull..... required to make it happen!!!!

Posted by: Klimax | August 21, 2010 5:15 PM | Report abuse

Firing squad, while holding them down on the ground aiming for their face, just as they did to the victim.

Posted by: k_romulus | August 23, 2010 9:49 AM | Report abuse

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