Judge Orders Mark Coates Held in Connection with Leroy Studevant Murder

Judge Lori Parker found substantial probability Wednesday that Mark Anthony Coates participated in the strangulation death of 56-year-old Leroy Studevant. Coates, 28, who is the second suspect to be arrested in connection with Studevant’s death, has been held pending a preliminary hearing scheduled for June 28.

On December 31, 2011, around 7:30 a.m., Studevant was found dead in Marvin Gaye Park with a belt tied around his neck and three puncture wounds to his upper body; a broken knife blade lay underneath him. The next day, a medical examiner determined that Studevant’s cause of death was “strangulation associated with piercing blunt force trauma;” it was ruled the first homicide of 2012.

Police arrested Coates Tuesday on a charge of felony murder in connection with the case; Alex Cater was arrested in the case in May last year and is charged with first-degree murder. Court records show that a July trial date for Cater was just recently vacated.

Charging documents related to Coates’ arrest say that a witness, who has entered into a plea agreement with prosecutors, told detectives that Studevant’s death stemmed from his refusal to let others have a cigarette.

The witness told police that he, Coates and Studevant spent the evening of December 30, 2011, playing cards and drinking. At the end of the evening, Coates and the witness walked Studevant to the Minnesota Avenue Metro station. Along the way, Studevant was asked for a cigarette and refused, so Coates and the witness forced Studevant to a dark location and assaulted him.

During the assault, Coates pulled out a knife and the two suspects “punched, kicked, stabbed and strangled” Studevant until he stopped resisting. Then, Coates took money and a cell phone from Studevant’s pockets, charging documents say.

The witness is not identified in the charging documents.

Coates was arrested January 2, 2012, on an unrelated charge and police noticed a cut on his hand. During the interrogation, his clothes were seized as evidence, and forensics experts later determined that blood stains on his jeans matched Studevant’s DNA, according to the documents.

Arrest documents are below.

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