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Murder suspect claims self-defense

Police say gay man stabbed 30 times, doused in bleach

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A man charged in the Aug. 8 stabbing death of gay federal employee Delando King told police he acted in self-defense after King allegedly held a knife to his throat and threatened to kill him, according to a police affidavit filed in D.C. Superior Court.

The affidavit says defendant Marcus McLean, 24, a resident of Northeast D.C., initially denied knowing King and denied stabbing him inside King’s apartment at 1117 10th St., N.W., during the early morning hours of Aug. 8, when police believe the murder occurred.

“After being shown a still photograph of video footage showing defendant McLean and the decedent walking together at approximately 3 a.m. on Aug. 8, 2010, defendant McLean admitted that he stabbed the decedent inside the decedent’s apartment, but claimed it was in self-defense,” says the affidavit.

Police charged McLean with premeditated first-degree murder while armed after arresting him about 2:30 a.m. Saturday, Aug. 14, along the 2100 block of P Street, N.W., within a one-block radius of three gay bars.

King, 34, an employee of the U.S. Indian Health Service, was found dead in his apartment Aug. 9 by a building maintenance worker after a co-worker reported he had not shown up for work and could not be reached, a police statement said.

The affidavit says the Dupont Circle gay bar Omega played an important role in helping investigators solve the case by providing police with video surveillance showing King and McLean together at the club shortly before the murder took place.

It says findings of an autopsy conducted by the D.C. Medical Examiner’s office show that King “sustained about thirty (30) stab wounds, five of which penetrated the heart.”

Autopsy findings also show King suffered “chemical injuries and sustained several cuts to the arms and legs.” The affidavit says the chemical injuries appear to have been caused by the body being “doused with bleach” at the time of the murder.

Several of King’s belongings were stolen from the apartment at the time of the murder, according to the affidavit, including his computer, wallet and cell phone, and investigators noted that the bedroom where King’s body was found had been “searched” by the perpetrator.

The affidavit says McLean waived his right to remain silent and agreed to speak with detectives at the D.C. police’s Homicide Branch offices.

“Defendant McLean alleged that the decedent was forcing him to be a male prostitute,” says the affidavit. “According to defendant McLean, the decedent held a knife to the throat of defendant McLean in the early morning hours of August 8, 2010 and threatened to kill him. Defendant McLean claimed that he began to stab the decedent in the chest and then he (defendant McLean) blacked out and does not remember the remainder of the stabbing.

“Defendant McLean further stated that, after the stabbing, he hid the knife used to stab the decedent, took the decedent’s computer, cell phone, and wallet, and attempted to clean/remove his fingerprints from the apartment.”

Police believe the knife used to stab King is consistent with a knife missing from a knife set they found in King’s apartment.

The affidavit notes that King was 5 feet, 5 inches tall and weighed about 140 pounds at the time of his death. It says McLean is about 6 feet, 7 inches tall and weighs about 230 pounds.

McLean’s attorney, Kia Sears, could not be immediately reached for comment.

According to the affidavit, investigators used surveillance video provided by Omega bar to track the whereabouts of King and McLean on the night of the murder.

“The nightclub known as ‘Omega’ is an establishment frequented by members of the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender communities,” says the affidavit. “While viewing the video, investigators were able to determine that on Aug. 8, 2010, at approximately 1:27 a.m., the decedent and Marcus McLean were inside the establishment and that the decedent was in possession of his wallet.

“On Aug. 8, 2010, at approximately 2:45 a.m., the decedent’s check card was utilized at a bar known as The Passenger located near the intersection of Seventh and L streets, N.W., Washington, D.C.,” says the affidavit. “Shortly thereafter surveillance footage from the Washington, D.C. Convention Center captured the decedent and Marcus McLean walking from the direction of the above establishment towards the decedent’s apartment located near the intersection of 10th and L streets … The video captures the decedent and Marcus McLean holding hands while walking.”

Capt. Michael Farish of the police homicide branch told news reporters Aug. 10 that police were seeking help from the community in identifying a man captured on video surveillance cameras at King’s upscale condo building entering the building with King. The video surveillance also showed the then unidentified black man leaving the building less than an hour later carrying a bag that he did not have when he entered the building.

The affidavit, prepared several days after Farish spoke to reporters, says investigators obtained bank records showing that McLean used King’s bank card to make purchases at several stores in D.C. and Montgomery County, Md.

It also says that at about 12:52 p.m. on Aug. 8, just hours after the Medical Examiner believes King was stabbed to death, McLean “is captured in surveillance video utilizing the decedent’s check card at the Regal movie theater in Silver Spring, Maryland.”

“Marcus McLean is observed still wearing the same clothing and carrying the same lime green bag as in the lobby surveillance footage that captured him leaving the decedent’s building approximately nine hours earlier,” it says.

The police affidavit says police apprehended McLean at 2020 P St., N.W., which is the address of Marriott Residence Inn Hotel. Omega is located in an alley behind the hotel at 2122 P St., N.W.

Jason James, the Residence Inn’s desk manager, said Monday that no arrest took place at the hotel at that time. A police spokesperson familiar with the case could not be immediately reached to confirm the location of McLean’s arrest.

Court records show McLean is being held without bond and is scheduled for a preliminary hearing in D.C. Superior Court on Sept. 7.

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District of Columbia

Capital Stonewall Democrats backs Robert White over Bowser

LGBTQ group endorses Erin Palmer over incumbent Mendelson

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Council member Robert White won the backing of Capital Stonewall Democrats in his bid for mayor over incumbent Muriel Bowser. (Washington Blade file photo by Michael Key)

The Capital Stonewall Democrats, the city’s largest local LGBTQ political group, announced on May 17 that it has selected D.C. Council member Robert White (D-At-Large) over incumbent Mayor Muriel Bowser and political newcomer Erin Palmer over D.C. Council Chair Phil Mendelson as its endorsed candidates in the city’s June 21 Democratic primary.

With Bowser and Mendelson as well as White having longstanding records of support for LGBTQ rights and Palmer expressing strong support for the LGBTQ community, local observers say the LGBTQ Democratic group’s 163 voting members appear to have based their endorsement decisions on other pressing issues facing the city rather than only LGBTQ specific issues.

In other races, Capital Stonewall Democrats, formerly known as the Gertrude Stein Democratic Club, which was founded in 1976, voted to endorse incumbent Ward 1 Council member Brianne Nadeau over gay former D.C. police officer Salah Czapary and community activist Sabel Harris who are running against Nadeau.

In the Ward 5 Council race, the group has endorsed gay D.C. Board of Education member Zachary Parker in a five-candidate contest for the seat being vacated by incumbent Council member Kenyan McDuffie, who ran unsuccessfully for the office of D.C. Attorney General.

The group has also endorsed Council member Charles Allen (D-Ward 6), who is running unopposed in the primary; D.C. Congressional Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D), who’s favored to win re-election against two lesser-known opponents; and D.C. shadow U.S. Rep. Oye Owolewa, who’s also favored over a lesser known opponent.

Capital Stonewall Democrats announced it did not make an endorsement in the Ward 3 and At-Large D.C. Council races and in the D.C. Attorney General race because no candidate received a required 60 percent of the vote under the group’s longstanding rules for endorsements.

By not endorsing in the At-Large race, the group passed over incumbent At-Large Council member Anita Bonds, a longtime supporter of LGBTQ issues. Bonds is being challenged by Advisory Neighborhood Commissioner Lisa Gore, former D.C. shadow House member Nate Fleming, and former D.C. Council staffer Dexter Williams.

In the hotly contested Ward 3 Council race, nine candidates are competing for the seat being vacated by incumbent Mary Cheh, another longtime LGBTQ rights supporter.

In the race for attorney general, three prominent local attorneys — Brian Schwalb, Ryan Jones, and Bruce Spiva — are competing for the AG position being vacated by incumbent Karl Racine, who chose not to run for re-election.

Capital Stonewall Democrats’ endorsements follow a series of five LGBTQ candidate forums the group held virtually in which most of the candidates running in the various races attended.
In the group’s mayoral form, Bowser was the only one of the four mayoral contenders that did not attend. Her supporters said she had a conflicting event organized by gay Democratic activist Kurt Vorndran that prevented her from attending the Stonewall event.

Those who attended the mayoral forum were Robert White, D.C. Council member and mayoral candidate Trayon White (D-Ward 8), and former attorney and community activist James Butler.
A detailed vote tally released by Capital Stonewall Democrats shows the vote count for each of the endorsed candidates as well as candidates in the races for which the group did not make an endorsement.

In the mayoral race, Robert White received 120 votes, or 74.5 percent. Bowser came in second place with 37 votes or 23.0 percent; Trayon White received just two votes or 1.2 percent, with Butler receiving just 1 vote at 0.6 percent. One vote was cast for no endorsement.

In the D.C. Council Chair race, Palmer received 89 votes or 60.1 percent, just surpassing the 60 percent threshold needed for an endorsement. Mendelson received 48 votes or 32.4 percent. Eleven votes were cast for no endorsement.

In the Ward 1 Council race, Nadeau received 100 votes or 69.4 percent compared to gay candidate Czapary, who came in second place with 23 votes or 16.0 percent. Candidate Sabel Harris came in third place with 9 votes or 6.3 percent, with a no endorsement selection receiving 12 votes or 8.3 percent.

In the Ward 5 contest, gay school board member Parker received 91 votes or 64.5 percent. Candidate Faith Hubbard came in second with 31 votes or 22.0 percent. The remaining candidates received fewer than 10 votes each, including former At-Large and former Ward 5 Council member Vincent Orange, who received 5 votes or 3.5 percent.

“Since Capital Stonewall Democrats has only 221 members, and only 163 bothered to vote, this is clearly not representative of the LGBTQ+ community in the District,” said gay Democratic activist Peter Rosenstein, who is supporting Bowser for mayor.

But longtime D.C. LGBTQ rights advocate A. Billy S. Jones-Hennin is among the local activists who view the Capital Stonewall Democrats’ endorsement of lesser-known challengers – most of whom have progressive, left-leaning views – as a reflection of changes in the demographics of the LGBTQ community and the Stonewall group’s members.

“At the forefront for voters is who they feel can address core problems like crime, open drug transactions, and increased homeless populations,” Jones-Hennin told the Blade. “Just asking voters for support based on their support of the LGBTQ+ community in the past does not cut it,” he said. “We are multi-faceted voters looking for new, more progressive and aggressive leadership.”

The Capital Stonewall Democrats list of endorsements as well as races with no endorsement can be viewed below:

• Mayor: Robert White, with 74.5% of the round one vote
• DC Attorney General: No Endorsement
• DC Council Chair: Erin Palmer, with 60.1% of the round one vote
• Ward 1 Council: Brianne K. Nadeau, with 69.4% of the round one vote
• Ward 3 Council: No Endorsement
• Ward 5 Council: Zachary Parker, with 64.5% of the round one vote
• Ward 6 Council: Charles Allen, with 83.2% of the round one vote
• At-Large Council: No Endorsement
• Delegate to U.S. House of Representatives: Eleanor Holmes Norton, with 69.7% of the round one vote
• U.S. Representative: Oye Owolewa, with 66.1% of the round one vote

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District of Columbia

Pannell resigns in protest from Ward 8 Council member’s LGBT Commission

Says Trayon White has no out member of his staff

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Phil Pannell resigned as a member of the Ward 8 LGBT Commission created by D.C. Council member Trayon White. (Blade file photo by Michael Key)

Longtime D.C. LGBTQ rights activist Phil Pannell announced on May 6 that he has resigned as a member of the Ward 8 LGBT Commission created by D.C. Council member Trayon White (D-Ward 8) on grounds that White does not have an LGBTQ person on his Council staff.

White’s office has said the Council member created the commission to “focus on the specific needs of this community” in his role as a supporter of LGBTQ equality.

“For me, this is a major issue of inclusion, affirmative action and diversity,” Pannell said in an email message announcing his resignation. “I as a Black Gay man cannot in good conscience continue to be a member of my Councilmember’s LGBT Commission when he has no one from my community on his staff,” Pannell’s announcement message continues.

“This is hypocritical at best and structurally homophobic at worst,” he said. “I deeply resent and refuse to be used as anyone’s homosexual prop for any purposes. Therefore, I resign from the commission effective immediately.”

In response to a request by the Washington Blade for comment on Pannell’s resignation, Julia Jessie, White’s director of communications, said White’s Council office “follows all legal HR procedures and hires based on experience and skillset.” Jessie added, “As an employer, we do not discriminate or consider a person’s race, color, religion, or sex, including sexual orientation or gender identity, when making decisions about employment qualifications.”

According to Jessie, “We do, however, harvest a safe and inclusionary work environment where employees who wish to voluntarily disclose their sexual orientation of gender identity feel comfortable doing so.”

White’s office released a statement from the Ward 8 LGBT Commission’s chair, Marvin ‘Rahim’ Briggs, saying the commission “regretfully accepts” Pannell’s resignation.

“The Commission will continue to focus on and address issues affecting Ward 8 LGBTQ,” Briggs says in the statement. “We’ll continue to organize to promote acceptance of LGBTQ community diversity and to foster respect and appreciation for each member of the community residing in Ward 8.”

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District of Columbia

Two gay candidates disqualified from D.C. primary ballot

Republican, Libertarian activists withdraw from races

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(Blade archive photo by Aram Vartian)

A member of the Capital Stonewall Democrats, D.C.’s largest LGBTQ local political group, mounted a successful challenge before the D.C. Board of Elections earlier this month that resulted in a gay Republican and a gay Libertarian Party activist withdrawing as candidates for public office in the city’s June 21 primary.

James Harnett, 24, a member of the Ward 2 Democratic Committee and a member of the staff of U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), filed challenges to the candidacy of gay Libertarian Party activist Bruce Majors, who was running unopposed in the June 21 primary for the office of both D.C. Delegate to the U.S. House and chair of the Libertarian Party of D.C.

The Board of Elections upheld Harnett’s challenge claiming that Majors failed to obtain a sufficient number of valid petition signatures needed to be placed on the ballot for both offices, according to elections board spokesperson Nicholas Jacobs. Majors withdrew his candidacy for both offices rather than contest the challenge.

The Board of Elections also upheld a challenge filed by Harnett against the candidacy of gay Republican and D.C. Log Cabin Republicans organization member Andrew Desser, who was running unopposed in the primary for the position of Ward 1 Chairperson of the D.C. Republican Committee.

Desser told the Blade he acknowledged that he fell short in obtaining the needed number of valid petition signatures and would not contest the challenge.

Harnett, who appeared to be acting on his own behalf and not representing the Capital Stonewall Democrats in his challenges to Majors and Desser before the election board, did not respond to the Blade’s request for comment.

Board of Elections records showed that he also successfully challenged six other candidates seeking ballot placement in the June 21 primary, one of whom, Lori Furstenberg, was running for mayor as a Republican and another, Corren Brown, was running for mayor as a Statehood-Green Party member.

The others Harnett mounted a successful challenge against were GOP candidates running for the Ward 2, Ward 4, and Ward 7 GOP Chairperson positions; and Leniqua ‘Dominique’ Jenkins, a Democrat running for the at-large D.C. Council seat, who was the only Democrat challenged by Harnett.

Harnett, a former ANC commissioner in the Foggy Bottom neighborhood, ran unsuccessfully in 2020 for the nonpartisan office of D.C. Board of Education for Ward 2. Among the candidates he ran against was gay education advocate Allister Chang, who won that race.

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