UPDATED: Trial Continues for Germantown Man Accused of Killing Friend
Brenden Lamont “BJ” Dashiell was charged with manslaughter in the death of Justin Eugene Carter, 28, of Gaithersburg.
(Updated Tuesday, March 6, 1:34 p.m.) A Gaithersburg man who was beaten to death on Fourth of July weekend had a blood alcohol level three times the legal limit two hours before his death, a medical examiner testified Tuesday.
Justin Eugene Carter, 28, was killed in a fistfight July 2, during a cookout at his Gaithersburg home. His friend Brenden Dashiell, 25, of Germantown, has been charged with manslaughter as a result of the death.
Dashiell's trial continued Tuesday in Montgomery Circuit Court.
“It was just a fight,” Dashiell said between sobs during his testimony. “I didn’t mean to kill him.”
The prosecutors — assistant state’s attorneys Sherri Koch and Mark Anderson — are trying to show that Dashiell was the sole aggressor, and that Carter never threw a single punch.
State's witness Dr. Pamela Southall, with the office of the Chief Medical Examiner, testified Tuesday that Carter sustained damage to his brain from blunt force trauma and had bruising on his arms consistent with defensive wounds. Jurors were shown photos of Carter’s brain; Southall described areas of damage, which she described as “severe.”
Southall said an autopsy report did not show injuries on Carter's hands but said it wasn’t enough evidence to show whether or not Carter punched Dashiell.
Carter was received five to six blows, according to Southall’s testimony.
The state rested its case Tuesday and the defense presented two witnesses: Malicki Bangorura, who was at the cookout, and Dashiell.
Defense attorney Adam Harris is trying to prove that Dashiell and Carter were equal antagonizers after a round of playful rough-housing that escalated into a string of fistfights that spiraled out of control. Both of the men had been drinking before the fight, according to court testimony.
According to Southall’s testimony, toxicology reports determined Carter's blood alcohol level was .25. The legal limit is .08, if you are driving.
On Monday, state's witness Jeremy Vasquez testified that he and Carter smoked marijuana the night Carter died. He also said Carter was intoxicated, having consumed around 15 beers over the course of the evening.
Dashiell also testified that he saw Carter smoke marijuana “blunts” during the cookout.
Southall said the medical examiners office does not test for marijuana.
Attorneys are expected to deliver their closing arguments late Tuesday afternoon.
(Original) In their opening statements Monday, attorneys presented a scenario in which playful roughhousing between friends resulted in death.
Now Brenden Lamont “BJ” Dashiell, 25, is accused of killing his friend Justin Eugene Carter, 28, in a fistfight during a cookout Fourth of July weekend at Carter’s home in Gaithersburg.
The trial continues Tuesday in Montgomery County Circuit Court, with Judge Ronald B. Rubin presiding.
Dashiell was charged with manslaughter.
Initial arguments Monday were framed around whether Dashiell — who sobbed during portions of the proceedings — was the sole aggressor or whether both men were equal antagonizers.
“This was a one-sided beating,” said Montgomery County Assistant State’s Attorney Sherri Koch. “The defendant basically beat Justin to death.”
Dashiell’s attorney, Adam Harris, who is with the public defender’s office, offered an alternate view, that both men were willfully involved.
“What happened on July 2 was a tragedy, not a crime,” Harris said.
Testimony from state’s witnesses Monday helped paint the picture of what may have happened on July 2, 2011. State’s witness Bradley D. Wilt, a fire fighter and paramedic with Montogmery County Fire & Rescue Service, testified that he found Carter on the ground unconscious and barely breathing when emergency personnel arrived at the scene.
According to witness testimony, the men were “like brothers.”
“I was in shock that they were fighting,” said Evelyn Carter, Justin Carter’s wife, Evelyn Carter. Dashiell was dating Evelyn Carter’s sister, whom he had two children with.
The state called Carter’s wife, Carter's stepson Aaron Evans, 18, and family friend Jeremy Vasquez, 21.
According to Vasquez’s testimony, Dashiell injured his arm while "play wrestling with" he and Carter. A verbal exchange followed and devolved into a fistfight when Carter thought Dashiell shoved his wife, Evelyn Carter, according to Vasquez’s testimony.
Evelyn Carter testified that she tripped over a step and had not been pushed by Dashiell. She said said the second fight dispersed with her nudging Dashiell away from the porch and her husband extending his hand to Dashiell for a conciliatory “shake.”
But according to witnesses’ testimonies, Dashiell allegedly rejected the gesture; Carter got mad and kicked over Dashiell’s moped, sparking the third and final fight in which Carter collapsed and never got back up.
Carter was pronounced dead at Shady Grove Adventist Hospital. The death was ruled a homicide after an autopsy determined blunt force trauma was the cause of death, court records state.