A Charlottesville court has set a September trial for the man accused of opening fire last fall inside a crowded Downtown Mall bar and killing a man. Meanwhile, prosecutors have obtained additional indictments against 33-year-old Marcel Darell Washington because some of the bullets allegedly intended for victim Davonn Jamar Wilson struck two female bystanders.
Longtime criminal defense attorney Scott Goodman told The Daily Progress that when prosecutors find a serious charge that would keep a suspect jailed, they often avoid putting victims through the trauma of testifying at a preliminary hearing by waiting to levy their additional charges.
“They were probably planning to do it all along,” said Goodman. “They haven’t lost anything.”
The initial charges against Washington, a former Charlottesvillian recently living in Charlotte, North Carolina, were second-degree murder, which can bring a maximum 40-year term, and the use of a firearm in commission of a felony, which can bring three years.
“In this case, a grand jury found probable cause for two additional felonies,” Charlottesville Commonwealth’s Attorney Joe Platania told The Daily Progress.
Those are a pair of malicious wounding charges for the injuries suffered by the bystanders. Each charge carries a maximum sentence of 20 years per conviction.
“Initial charges in criminal investigations are not always reflective of the totality of alleged criminal conduct known to law enforcement,” said Platania. “I would like to emphasize that indictments are charging documents only, and Mr. Washington is presumed to be innocent.”
Witnesses and charging documents claim that Washington opened fire around 1 a.m on Oct. 23 inside Lucky Blue’s, a bar at 223 W. Main St. As the victim attempted to run for his life, the documents claim, he was chased and gunned down in a fusillade that spread into the paths of the two bystanders, Andrea Fortunati and Kendra Hunt.
Fortunati is listed on a University of Virginia’s sports website as an assistant athletic trainer for swimming and diving. Efforts to reach her were unsuccessful.
Hunt is a stay-at-home mom who had been celebrating a birthday with family when the shots rang out.
“We were just having a good time on the Downtown Mall,” Hunt’s sister-in-law Marissa Blair told The Daily Progress.
No stranger to downtown violence, Blair was a close friend to Heather Heyer, the woman killed in 2017 when a neo-Nazi rammed a car into counterprotesters at the infamous Unite the Right rally-turned-riot.
By contrast, that October night was supposed to be joyful.
“It was my youngest brother’s birthday,” recalled Blair. “We were just going from place to place: Zocalo, the Fitzroy. Somebody wanted a Corona, and the Fitzroy didn’t have Coronas.”
Suddenly the gunshots rang out.
“We all take off running, and when I turned around, Kendra said, ‘I’ve been shot.’”
A mother of three living in Amherst, Hunt had been struck by bullets in both legs and suffered a shoulder fracture and an arm fracture from her ensuing fall to the bricks of the Downtown Mall, according to a GoFundMe campaign that Blair organized.
“She’s a trooper,” said Blair, “but she’s definitely still healing.”
As for Washington, he leaned back with crossed arms on May 25 when he last appeared in court via video feed as the indictments, dated two days earlier, were read to him. He remains held without bail in the Albemarle-Charlottesville Regional Jail as he faces a trial that begins Sept. 5 in Charlottesville Circuit Court.