Substantial Probablity Found in Petworth Hammer Attacks Case

A DC Superior Court Judge found substantial probability today that five attacks over the course of three days in Petworth last month were linked to the same person and that that person was 19-year-old Michael Davis, brother of NFL stars Vernon and Vontae Davis.

That ruling was made today at Davis’s preliminary hearing on two assault charges and one murder charge. The hearing was held even though Judge Robert Morin found Davis mentally incompetent to stand trial earlier this morning. Earlier reports have indicated that Davis may suffer from schizophrenia and have a history of PCP use.

Davis sat unmoving through the approximately three hours of the preliminary hearing; his eyes partially closed and his mouth slightly open.

Davis was arrested the evening of April 16, following a non-fatal attack on a woman in the 5000 block of 8th Street Northwest. A total of four other attacks, including the fatal assault on 66-year-old Denver man Gary Dederichs, have been linked to the April 16 attack.

At the preliminary hearing Friday, Detective Gabriel Truby testified that the night of his arrest, Davis appeared to be “mentally slow.”

On the night Davis was arrested, he told police repeatedly, “I just want you to know, I’m a really good person. I’m a good person,” Truby said.

Morin said his finding that the five attacks were related came as a result of the fact that all five crimes were committed within a small time frame and location and because all of the victims experienced blunt force trauma to the back of their heads.

Gary Dederichs was found in an alley alongside 813 Emerson Street in Northwest DC just after 6 p.m. on April 24. He was unconscious and unresponsive; a “large quantity” of blood was pooled near his head. Dederichs did not appear to have been robbed; a wallet with money was found on him. An autopsy found that Dederichs died of blunt force trauma to the head. A medical examiner said the injury could have come from a “claw style weapon, possibly a hammer.”

Early the following morning, at about 2:40 a.m., a 53-year-old man was found near 4812 Georgia Avenue Northwest with traumatic head injuries. He was taken to the hospital and underwent surgery for multiple facial fractures and a large fracture to the back of his head. Medical authorities said a hammer or baseball bat could have caused the injuries.

That night, a 19-year-old woman was attacked in the 5600 block of 9th Street Northwest. She appears to have also been struck on the back of the head, fracturing her skull and causing bleeding in her brain.

The next day, at 3:30 pm, a man was attacked in the 200 block of Ingraham Street Northwest. The man was knocked from behind to the ground, and his injuries include cuts to his head and face. A rubberized hammer handle was found near the scene of the crime.

Later that day, just before 9 p.m., a woman was attacked in the 5000 block of 8th Street Northwest. The attack fractured her skull and fractured her skull. A man detained shortly after the attack had a claw-tooth hammer in his backpack. Hair was present on the clawed end, court documents state.

Davis’ defense attorney, Dana Page, argued that there was little evidence that Davis committed these crimes. Page said witnesses in the case could not be trusted, in one case because the witness did not come forward until Davis’ arrest was reported in the media. She added that there was no evidence connecting Davis to Dederichs’ slaying.

Morin ordered Davis held; he is due back in court Wednesday for a status hearing.

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