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Brother of NFL players charged in second D.C. hammer attack

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A 19-year-old man accused of striking a woman with a hammer and fracturing her skull was charged Saturday with a second, previously unknown, attack in the Petworth neighborhood and ordered held in jail pending a preliminary hearing in May.

Michael W. Davis, the younger brother of two professional football players, was charged in D.C. Superior Court with two counts of assault with intent to kill in connection with two attacks Thursday. D.C. police are continuing to investigate whether three other similar attacks that occurred Tuesday and Wednesday, including a fatal assault on a tourist, are also related. In each of the five incidents, victims suffered blunt force trauma to the head.

On Saturday, at his first court appearance since his arrest, Davis was clad in a white jumpsuit and shackles. He made no statement to the court.

Several family members, who declined to comment afterward, broke down sobbing when D.C. Superior Court Judge Michael Rankin said Mr. Davis would remain in jail.

"Mr. Davis has many, many family member here and has ties to the community," public defender Dana Page said at Saturday's hearing as she argued for his release from custody. "He has never been arrested before."

Mr. Davis is the younger brother of San Francisco 49ers tight end Vernon Davis and Miami Dolphins cornerback Vontae Davis.

Though Mr. Davis does not have an arrest record, he appears to have had some contact with the court system as a juvenile.

D.C. Council member Jim Graham, Ward 1 Democrat and chairman of the committee with oversight of agencies charged with rehabilitation of troubled youth, said he remains deeply concerned about whether Mr. Davis was in need of mental health services he did not receive.

Mr. Graham on Saturday said Mr. Davis had a truancy problem in 2008 that resulted in probation and "wraparound services" through Court Social Services (CSS) — though it is unlikely that agency still had jurisdiction over Mr. Davis at the time of his arrest. CSS officials would not comment.

But Mr. Graham stressed that at age 19 Davis is legally an adult, and that there is no record he was ever committed to the custody of the Department of Youth Rehabilitation Services (DYRS), the city's juvenile justice agency.

"We should not manufacture juvenile status for people over the age of 18," he said, noting that DYRS has custody over committed youth in some cases until age 21.

Although Mr. Davis was never committed to DYRS, sources inside the agency that reviewed his DYRS file said it indicated a pre-commitment status and that three DYRS supervisory social workers each made notations in the file in 2010, when he would have been 17 or 18.

Those sources, who were not authorized to speak publicly about the case, said it was unclear from the file how or if Mr. Davis' pre-commitment status was reconciled. DYRS officials would neither confirm nor deny that Mr. Davis was in a pre-commitment status, and the nature of such a status is unclear.

Police arrested Mr. Davis Thursday night as officers patrolled the Petworth neighborhood in response to the series of attacks, which all occurred within a 10-block radius.

Around 9 p.m., officers heard a woman screaming and found her on the ground in the 800 block of Gallatin Street in Northwest. She had been struck in the back of the head and suffered a skull fracture, according to court documents charging Mr. Davis with the attack.

A short distance away, police said a man was peeking out from behind a portable toilet in an alleyway watching the officers. He fled as they approached, running through alleys and jumping fences before throwing a backpack he was carrying. Officers later found Mr. Davis in the neighborhood and identified him as the man they had chased. He had fresh blood and fresh cuts on his hands, according to a police affidavit filed in D.C. Superior Court.

From the backpack, police recovered a hammer that had hair stuck to the claw end, the affidavit states.

The 19-year-old woman who was assaulted said just before she was attacked she noticed a man walking behind her who was carrying a dark bag and wearing a shirt with light horizontal stripes.

Police recovered a blue and white striped hoodie with blood on it from underneath a porch near where Mr. Davis was seen sitting shortly before his arrest.

On Friday, residents who gathered near the Northwest D.C. home where Mr. Davis lived with his grandmother said he was regularly seen walking around the neighborhood in a light blue hoodie with white stripes across the chest.

The second attack with which Mr. Davis is charged also occurred Thursday but was reported after his arrest.

A man was walking his dog in the 200 block of Ingraham Street Northwest around 3:30 p.m. when he passed a young man who greeted him with a smile and "exchanged pleasantries." After the young man passed, the man was struck in the head from behind. The victim said he did not come forward immediately because he was "embarrassed by the event" and "wanted to think it over before making the report."

On Friday, the man identified Mr. Davis from a photo spread as the person who attacked him. Police recovered the rubber handle of a hammer from the scene of the attack.

As police on Friday searched Mr. Davis' home, in the 900 block of Emerson Street in Northwest, homicide detective Lt. Robert Alder said investigators were looking into whether the hammer recovered was the same weapon used to attack the three other victims.

In an attack Tuesday night, Gary Dederichs, 66, of Denver was found dead in an alley in the 800 block of Emerson Street Northwest. He suffered massive head trauma and injuries "consistent with a claw style weapon, possible similar to a hammer," according to the affidavit.

Less than 12 hours later, a 53-year-old man was found in the roadway in the nearby 4800 block of Georgia Avenue Northwest with severe trauma to the back of his head. On Wednesday night, a 37-year-old woman was hit from behind as she was walking in the 5600 block of 9th Street Northwest. Both victims suffered skull fractures.

Neighbors and family members, who gathered Friday on street corners near Mr. Davis' home and watched police come and go, were in disbelief that the quiet young man could be behind the attacks.

Among them was "Duke," the father of Vernon and stepfather of Michael, who declined to comment. Others, who declined to give their names because of their close relationships with the family, said Michael Davis was quiet and didn't have the temperament to hurt anyone.

One woman, who several people in the neighborhood identified as Michael Davis' mother, sat in the passenger seat of an SUV around the corner from the home and said "Mike" might have forgotten to "take his shot." The same woman was among those in court Saturday.

A preliminary hearing is scheduled in Mr. Davis case for May 11.

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