Johnathan Dawkins Takes the Stand in His Defense

Johnathan Dawkins took the stand Wednesday and told jurors he was afraid for his life before fatally stabbing 33-year-old Dwayne Brisbon.

I looked up and I immediately thought, they are about to jump me,” said Dawkins, “I was scared, I panicked.”

Dawkins is charged with voluntary manslaughter while armed in connection with the stabbing death of Brisbon. On May 1, 2012, Brisbon was found stabbed in a crashed car at the 500 block of Florida Avenue Northwest around 2:15 a.m.

Prosecutors and defense attorneys agree that Dawkins and Brisbon fought shortly before Brisbon was stabbed. But prosecutors say that it was never a fair fight since Dawkins intended to use deadly force with his knife.

On the stand Wednesday, Dawkins told jurors that what actually happened was another man, Daniel Cheek, restrained him while Brisbane punched him repeatedly. Dawkins said it reminded him of an altercation that happened several years before, where eight men beat him and his friend so badly he almost died.

I felt that if I did not reach for my knife, he could have beat me to death on the side of the street,” Dawkins said.

Cheek testified Tuesday that before the stabbing, he and Dawkins were walking near Shaw’s Tavern in Northwest when a dark BMW pulled over and the driver asked Cheek if he was alright. Cheek testified he told the driver, Brisbon, he was fine and the driver should leave.

When Brisbon didn’t drive away, Cheek testified that Dawkins told him, “What the f*ck you stopping for?” Then Brisbon “charged out of the car” to meet Dawkins, according to Cheek.

Cheek said he tried to break the men up, but “They looked like they both wanted to fight,” Cheek said.

Dawkins told jurors Wednesday that only after Cheek stepped in to the fight to hold him did he feel the need to pull out his knife, which he said he carried for use in his construction job, and for protection.

I thought [Cheek] was joining the fight because he was holding me and not the driver,” Dawkins said.

A video Dawkins says he took of himself the morning after the incident shows bruises along the side of his left jawline and behind his left arm, where Dawkins said Cheek was holding him during the incident. Also in the video, his wrist is shown wrapped in a bloody white bandage.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Holly Schick questioned why Dawkins did not seek medical help after he noticed he was bleeding from his wrist as he ran home past Howard University Hospital that night.

Dawkins told Schick that his girlfriend, a certified nursing assistant, was at his home that night, so he sought her help. He said he did not tell doctors the truth about his injuries the following morning at the emergency room because he did not want to get in trouble.

I didn’t know what was going on,” said Dawkins, “I didn’t want to get locked up for something when I wasn’t even sure of what happened.”

Before Dawkins left the stand, Judge Russell Canan read a question from one of the jurors, asking why Dawkins did not call the police if he felt threatened that night.

I did not know that person had died,” said Dawkins, “Immediately, once I found out the person died, everything changed.”

Closing arguments are scheduled Thursday at 10 a.m.

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