A Year After SW DC Homicide, Donte Graves Stands Trial on Second-Degree Murder Charge

On Wednesday, a little more than a year after 22-year-old Tyrone Joyner was shot and killed near Nationals Park, his accused assailant stood for the first time before a jury.

The suspect, Donte Graves is accused of second-degree murder. Prosecutors say they will present jurors with eyewitness testimony of the shooting. But Grave’s defense attorney warns those accounts are biased and can’t be trusted.

Joyner was found around 6:30 p.m. Feb. 24 in the 1400 block of Canal Street Southwest suffering from a gunshot wound to the stomach; he later died at Howard University Hospital.

Graves was arraigned in August of last year on a charge of second-degree murder. He pleaded innocent.

On Wednesday, the first witnesses to testify were called to the stand.

The first was Kareem Young, who said he heard gunshots at around 6 p.m. that Sunday evening and immediately looked out from his 3rd floor apartment window in the 1400 block of Canal Street Southwest.

“He was running through the courtyard then he just collapsed,” Young said of Joyner.

Young went outside and found Joyner breathing hard and suffering from a gunshot wound to the abdomen. Young immediately dialed 911 and police arrived at the scene minutes later.

First responders also took the stand who described finding Joyner breathing but unresponsive before he was transported to Howard University Hospital where he was pronounced dead at 12:38 a.m. the following morning.

Joyner’s god-sister Dionna Howard, 26, took the stand and broke down in tears after seeing a blown up picture of Joyner on the projector screen.

Howard, who referred to Joyner by his nickname, Nunu, recalled seeing her brother walk out her god-mothers apartment a few minutes before he was shot.

Howard said she answered the door when one of Joyner’s friends came looking for him accompanied by Graves.

She said she had met Graves for the first time earlier that day in an alley behind the apartment building when she was walking back from a nearby grocery store. Howard said Graves was trying to get her number and talk to her but she ignored him.

The trial is expected to continue Thursday.

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