On May 15, 2005, Casey Logan and Derrick Meade argued so loudly outside their Clifton home that both a neighbor and Casey's brother took action. The neighbor called the police; the brother grabbed his gun and killed Meade.
AND THAT'S the difference between right and wrong, argued the prosecution last week during the murder trial of the shooter, David Marsden Logan, 36. The case played out over three days in Fairfax County Circuit Court before a jury of four men and eight women and, Tuesday afternoon, March 7, it reached a verdict.
After two days' deliberation, the jury found him guilty of the lesser charge of voluntary manslaughter and recommended he spend the next 10 years in prison. He'll be sentenced May 19.
Assistant Commonwealth's Attorney William Rhyne said an unloaded pistol "would have worked just as well as a loaded one" to frighten Meade away. But according to Logan's testimony, he truly believed his sister was in jeopardy.
"[Meade] began pushing her back, grabbing or shoving; he was grappling at her arms," said Logan. "At that moment, I think my mind just snapped and I went into a state of panic. I saw my sister getting hurt; I thought she was going to get beat up and seriously injured. The gun went off in my hands ... and he spun around and fell to the ground."
Casey, 24, and Meade, 25, and their two children, Nathaniel, 4, and Alexis, 2, lived in the Logan family home in the Clifton Hunt community, in the bedroom next to David's. A shy recluse suffering from depression, fatigue and insomnia, he stayed in his room — even at mealtimes and on holidays. His only interaction was with the children, whom he baby-sat and played with on occasion.
However, he couldn't help hearing the constant and, often, violent arguments of his sister and Meade. Unbeknownst to his family, Logan kept a .9 mm pistol in a locked box in his room and, on May 15, he used it.
HIS BROTHER Peter, 29, testified that, when he arrival home that afternoon, "I saw Derrick laying face up on the driveway and my sister standing over him with a cell phone. She was kneeling over him, upset and crying. She told me David had shot Derrick."
Police Det. Michael Lamper responded to the scene and said a "distraught" Casey Logan told him her brother had shot Meade in the driveway. "She said she and Meade had a verbal altercation in the house and continued it outside," said Lamper. "She heard the back door of the house open and saw a handgun come around one of her shoulders."
Police 2nd Lt. Sigfredo Quiles Jr. later found Logan in his car and arrested him. Quiles said the gun was on the passenger side and four bullets were in Logan's pants pocket.
Casey testified that she and Meade had lived together, off and on, for four to five years. They'd just arrived home from King's Dominion, when a friend of hers called on the house phone.
"Derek answered it and was upset," she said. "He asked why was another man calling me at my parents' house. He went upstairs and was packing up his stuff. It was an ongoing problem with us, and we were trying to work things out." She said she didn't think he was leaving permanently. "He wanted me to stop seeing other people, and I wanted him to stop seeing other people."
Casey said she and Meade were arguing angrily with raised voices. Then she went inside the house to get their children. "The kids were upset, so I took them outside to play," she said. "Derrick started to drive away, but my son wanted to go with him and was crying, so Derrick stopped the car and came back in reverse."
She said Meade put Nathaniel in his carseat and said the two of them were going to New York to stay with his brother Darrell. Then Logan came outside. "He had a gun in his hands," said Casey. "I saw him cock it back. He held it down in front of him, below his waist. He said that Derrick should leave."
SHE SAID the men began arguing and then Meade returned to his car. She did, too, to get Nathaniel. Then, while Meade was taking the child out of his carseat, said Casey, "I heard Derrick say, 'He pulled a gun on me,' and I thought he was talking to our son and I didn't want Nathaniel to know my brother had pulled a gun on Derrick."
So she "kicked him on his behind," she said, and Meade straightened up, facing her, and said he'd been talking to his brother on his cell phone, not their son. Crying, she described what happened next: "There was a shot. I saw the bullet go into Derrick's back and he fell forward." At some prior point, Meade had turned around, but she said she didn't see him do so.
Casey said she'd thought David had gone inside the house but, when she heard the gun go off over her shoulder, she then saw him behind her. "I turned to my brother and started screaming," she said. And except for the kick, she said, she and Meade hadn't had a physical altercation that day.
The jury next heard the 911 tape of Casey's hysterical call to the police after the shooting. She sobbed as it played, as did her mother and Meade's relatives, sitting in court on opposite sides of the room.
"He was shot in the back. Please help me! He was shot with a gun. Oh, my God!" she screamed.
She said Derrick was bleeding from his mouth. "Place your cheek against his nose," said the dispatcher. "Can you feel him breathing?" Casey said no, then pleaded, "Derrick, breathe, baby, breathe, breathe!"
The Logans' neighbor, Tony Less, said he heard "a loud family argument" from his home, about 150 yards away and told his wife to call 911. Then, as he headed for the Logans', he heard a shot and returned home to tell his wife "to have them send the police."
Logan, himself, testified and described himself as someone not used to asking for aid. Even when he was living in his car in Seattle and selling his blood plasma for gas-and-grocery money, he said, "I never asked my family or friends for help."
At home, he said, Casey and Meade argued nearly every day, so he blocked it out with his music headphones. Eventually, he said, "The arguments were becoming more physical. I heard things being thrown, walls being hit, people pushing and shoving. I heard threats being made. Nathaniel told me one day that 'Daddy said he was gonna kill Mommy,' and I found that very disturbing."
Worried that Meade was "using physical force against my sister," Logan researched domestic-violence statistics on the Internet and became even more concerned for Casey's safety. He said he, too, heard Meade threaten her life and say he'd knock her out. And once, said Logan, "My sister chastised him for beating on her in front of the children."
"DID YOU speak to Derrick or anyone in your family about your concerns?" asked defense attorney Bob Whitestone. "No," replied Logan. "Because I was withdrawn, it was my nature to try to take care of problems, myself."
Logan heard the argument May 15. "The yelling began to sound increasingly loud and violent," he said. Logan said he considered intervening so Casey wouldn't get hurt but, since Meade was twice his size, he got his gun to also protect himself.
He said he intended to conceal it "unless there was a realistic threat of danger." So he hid it in his waistband under his T-shirt. First, he moved from room to room, downstairs, to monitor the argument's intensity "in case it got violent." When he believed it had reached that point, he went outside, barefoot, and told Meade to lower his voice.
"[Meade] began storming toward me, directing his aggression at me," said Logan, who then drew his gun and pointed it downward. "Even though I had a gun in my hand, he kept coming toward me. That was shocking to me and it filled me with fear." He said he never intended to shoot Meade and hadn't thought to call police because "I don't ask people for help."
Then Meade went to his car and again argued with Casey. When Meade began making "aggressive motions" at her, said Logan, he shot, believing he was firing at Meade's chest. "I don't think I was in a rational state of mind," he said. "I think I was still in a state of shock. I was scared for my sister. I thought she was going to end up on the ground in a pool of blood."
Clinical psychologist, Dr. Stanton Samenow, testified that Logan suffered from a schizoid personality disorder that made him more susceptible to fear. Whitestone said this case was about Meade's fury and Logan's fear, as well as the basic human instinct to try to protect a member of one's family.
Nonetheless, countered Rhyne, "[Logan] came to a fight armed with a deadly weapon — and it wasn't even his fight." In the end, the jury agreed, convicting him of voluntary manslaughter, and Whitestone said he hopes the judge will sentence Logan within the state sentencing guidelines of three to six years, rather than the jury's 10-year recommendation.