Rashad Slye Held in Cab Driver’s Shooting Death, Despite “Circumstantial” Case

Rashad Slye, who is suspected of first-degree murder in the October shooting of cab driver Domingo Ezirike, was ordered held today after Judge Gerald Fisher found substantial probability that he is responsible for the man’s shooting death.

Procescutors say Slye, 20, killed the 40-year-old cab driver Oct. 22 after the two allegedly got into an argument over a shorted cab fare.

In court, Det. Anthony Greene, a member of the Metropolitan Police Department’s homicide branch, fielded questions about the night of the murder from both the prosecution and the defense.

The prosecution tried to connect Slye to the crime by presenting two photographs, found on a cell phone retrieved from his bedroom, that showed a 9 mm handgun which Greene said matched the 9 mm bullet shell casing recovered from the crime scene. The murder weapon still has not been found.

But Slye’s attorney, Christopher Griffiths, cast doubt upon whether the gun or the photographs could be definitively linked to his client. The phone that led detectives to the residence where Slye was arrested did not belong to him, but to a witness who claims to have been in the cab with Slye before the murder. The cell phone with the pictures has never been identified by Slye as his own. Both phones were retrieved from Slye’s bedroom, according to Greene.

Griffiths called the case “extremely circumstantial,” and questioned statements made by three of the witnesses in the case.

Witness 1, a bystander who observed the crime from “about 50 yards away,” according to Greene, said the shooter was a middle-aged black male.

Witness 2, who initially denied being in the cab with Slye the night of the murder but later said she had been there and had observed an argument between him and Ezirike, testified before a grand jury that there hadn’t been an argument between the two after all.

Witness 3, an MPD detective who had talked to Ezirike at a checkpoint shortly before the murder, said that he had made eye contact with a light-skinned male passenger with dreadlocks and a multicolored knit cap sitting in the taxi’s middle seat. He said he believed there was a second passenger seated behind Ezirike, but he couldn’t distinguish any of that passenger’s features. Neither Slye, whose hair is short and cropped, nor Witness 2, described as a female with long, straight hair, has dreadlocks.

While acknowledging that the case was circumstantial, Fisher said the cell phone photos potentially linking Slye to a gun similar to the one used in the murder were enough to constitute probable cause.

A felony status conference for Slye has been scheduled for March 19, 2012, at 9:30 a.m. in court room 318.

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