Preliminary Hearing on Murder

Preliminary Hearing on Murder

Judge Sends Homicide Case to Grand Jury

The commonwealth attorney's office called two witnesses in the arraignment of Eric Jones, 25, who is charged with first-degree murder in the March 8 homicide of Corey Hargrow. General District Court Judge Becky Moore ruled that the case will be certified to the grand jury, which will meet on the first Monday in June.

"I'm satisfied," said Bernadette Hargrow, the victim's mother. "I'm just letting the police and the commonwealth attorney's office do what they need to do right now."

Jones was arrested while leaving Hargrow's funeral on March 14. The two had been friends since childhood, and remained close throughout their lives. Jones was seen weeping at Hargrow's funeral, returning to the open casket several times. An Alexandria magistrate issued the warrant for Jones' arrest while the funeral was ending. According to court records, Detective Thomas Durkin made the arrest 15 minutes after the warrant was issued.

"Best friends don't do this to best friends," said Hargrow. "I just want justice to be served — but the truth is that none of this will bring my son back."

COREY MAURICE HARGROW, 21, was a quiet young man. He rarely spoke, and would often smile at people instead of responding to their questions. He worked in an Old Town hotel and was saving money to buy a car when he was murdered at a public housing complex on North Fayette Street. After the funeral, where mourners remembered Hargrow's gentle strength, the suspect was arrested while exiting St. Joseph Church on North Columbus Street.

The evidence presented against Jones at the arraignment, which was a preliminary hearing, consisted of testimony from an eyewitness account of a woman who lived on North Fayette Street and the detective who was on the scene within 45 minutes of the homicide.

Eva Duncan, who lives near the crime scene, testified that she saw the suspect and the victim engaged in a heated argument. According to her testimony on Friday, Jones was holding a gun. While talking on her cell phone, she heard several gunshots. After rushing to her window to find out what had happened, she said she saw several people scatter from "the cut," an area of the housing project where the murder happened that offers access to a sidewalk in the middle of the 700 block of North Fayette Street.

When Jones arrived at Hargrow's funeral, people who suspected him in the crime wondered why he would have made such a public appearance.

"Some young folks were making comments to me like, 'there he is' during the funeral," said Mayor William Euille. The mayor attended the service, but left before the arrest was made. "I was there out of respect for the family. Several members of the Hargrow family are city employees, and I wanted to show my respect and the respect of the city."

"People were arguing," Duncan testified. She said that she saw Hargrow and Jones yelling at each other.

"They were friends," she said, testifying that Hargow and Jones were together "most of the time." She said that she thought she was watching a friendly dispute, so she returned to her phone conversation.

Several minutes later, she said that she heard several gunshots. By the time she returned to the window to see what had happened, she could see several people scattering from the scene of the crime. Duncan admitted that she did not see the shooting and could not see the entire crime scene from her bedroom window on Fayette Street.

"I still don't know who did it," she said.

THE SECOND WITNESS was Durkin, the Alexandria Police detective who was assigned to the investigation shortly after the murder. He testified that he was present at Hargrow's autopsy, which was conducted on March 9.

"They don't have any evidence whatsoever to tie my client to this crime," said defense attorney George Wooditch Jr., noting that the commonwealth attorney's office did not produce evidence of fingerprints retrieved at the crime scene or the murder weapon tying Jones to the murder during the preliminary hearing. "All they have is a witness who saw an argument."

After Judge Moore certified the case to the grand jury, Wooditch acknowledged that the commonwealth's case would probably move forward.

"We're very clearly going to trial," said Wooditch.