February 24, 2010 at 3:25 pm EST | by Lou Chibbaro Jr.
Judge finds probable cause in D.C. murder case

A D.C. Superior Court judge has ruled probable cause exists that William Wren allegedly shot and killed gay Maryland resident Gordon Rivers last month inside Rivers’ car while it was parked in Southeast Washington.

But neither Wren’s lawyer nor the assistant U.S. attorney prosecuting the case disclosed during a preliminary hearing Feb. 18 how Wren, 17, and Rivers, 47, met and whether the murder was linked to Wren’s sexual orientation.

A police affidavit says Wren told homicide detectives on the day he voluntarily surrendered for arrest that he and Rivers knew each other prior to the Jan. 10 shooting, which took place in front of 2641 Naylor Rd., S.E. According to the affidavit, he told detectives he invited Rivers by phone to meet him that day with the intent of setting him up for a robbery.

The affidavit says Wren claimed Rivers pulled a gun on him after realizing Wren planned to rob him, and the gun went off during a struggle between the two inside Rivers’ parked car. Police dispute that account. They say in the affidavit that a witness overheard Wren plan the robbery with another person and saw Wren enter Rivers’ car while in possession of a gun. The gun that Wren allegedly brought into the car matched the caliber of bullets retrieved from Rivers’ body, according to the affidavit.

Judge Herbert Dixon, after finding probable cause that Wren allegedly committed first degree felony murder while armed, ordered him held without bond and sent the case to a grand jury for further action. He scheduled a status hearing for June 3.

Wren’s attorney, Spencer Hecht, asked Dixon to release Wren into the custody of his family while he awaits grand jury action and a possible trial. He noted that Wren’s fiancé and mother were in the courtroom. He said Wren and his fiancé had two children, one of whom was born one day before Wren’s arrest in the case. According to Hecht, Wren has no prior criminal record.

Dixon said the facts surrounding the case prevented him from releasing Wren.

Lou Chibbaro Jr. has reported on the LGBT civil rights movement and the LGBT community for more than 30 years, beginning as a freelance writer and later as a staff reporter and currently as Senior News Reporter for the Washington Blade. He has chronicled LGBT-related developments as they have touched on a wide range of social, religious, and governmental institutions, including the White House, Congress, the U.S. Supreme Court, the military, local and national law enforcement agencies and the Catholic Church. Chibbaro has reported on LGBT issues and LGBT participation in local and national elections since 1976. He has covered the AIDS epidemic since it first surfaced in the early 1980s. Follow Lou

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