David Marsden Logan was a quiet recluse who shied away from people and spent most of his time in his room. But when he believed his sister's life was in danger, he took the extraordinary step of grabbing his gun, going outside and killing the person he saw as a threat to her.
However, a jury of four men and eight women hearing the facts of the case during his trial in late February disagreed with Logan's actions. Believing he shouldn't have taken matters into his own hands, they found him guilty of voluntary manslaughter and recommended he serve 10 years in prison.
AND LAST Friday, May 19, in Fairfax County Circuit Court — almost a year to the day, after the tragedy — Judge Robert Wooldridge imposed the sentence the jury suggested.
"I'm pleased the judge confirmed the jury's [recommended] sentence," said Assistant Commonwealth's Attorney William Rhyne. "He said he thought it was an appropriate sentence."
But defense attorney Bob Whitestone had hoped his client would receive something in the range of the state sentencing-guidelines of two to five years for his crime. Said Whitestone: "I was hoping the judge would suspend a part of the sentence."
The offense occurred May 15, 2005, outside the Clifton Hunt home where Logan, then 35, his sister Casey, 24, her boyfriend Derrick Meade, 25, and their children, Nathaniel, 4, and Alexis, 2, all lived. Casey and David's parents resided there, as well.
David Logan suffered from depression, fatigue and insomnia and wouldn't even eat meals with his family. He only interacted with the children, whom he babysat and played with on occasion. They and their parents lived in the bedroom next to David's, and he couldn't help but hear the constant and, often, violent arguments of his sister and Meade.
DURING HIS trial, Logan testified that he tried blocking out their verbal battles with his music headphones. But 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 Whitestone. "No," replied Logan. "Because I was withdrawn, it was my nature to try to take care of problems, myself." However, unbeknownst to his family, he kept a .9 mm pistol in a locked box in his room.
Casey testified that, on May 15, 2005, she and Meade had 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. Said Casey: "He wanted me to stop seeing other people, and I wanted him to stop seeing other people."
She 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," said Casey. "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 Derrick should leave."
SHE SAID the men argued and 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." Meade had previously turned around, but she hadn't seen 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, Casey said she and Meade weren't physically fighting.
The jury also heard the 911 tape of Casey's hysterical call to the police after the shooting. "He was shot in the back," she screamed. "Please help me! He was shot with a gun. Oh, my God!" She said Derrick was bleeding from his mouth and then pleaded, "Derrick, breathe, baby, breathe, breathe!"
Logan testified that, before he went outside that day, "The yelling began to sound increasingly loud and violent." Since Meade was twice his size, he said, he got his gun to protect both himself and his sister. Concealing it in his waistband under his T-shirt, he walked 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."
Then Meade went to his car and again argued with Casey. "[Meade] began pushing her back; 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 was scared for my sister. I thought she was going to end up on the ground in a pool of blood." Believing he was firing at Meade's chest, said Logan, "The gun went off in my hands ... and he spun around and fell to the ground."
Police arrested him shortly afterward, charging him with murder. On March 7, the jury convicted him of the lesser charge of voluntary manslaughter and recommended he spend a decade behind bars.
During the trial, clinical psychologist, Dr. Stanton Samenow, testified that Logan suffered from a schizoid personality disorder that made him more susceptible to fear. And before Friday's sentencing, he reiterated the influence this disorder had on Logan's perception of danger to his sister.
DEFENSE attorney Whitestone said Casey even wrote a letter to the judge, saying Meade's death wasn't entirely her brother's fault and that "she and Derrick played a role in it because of the turbulent nature of their relationship and their violent arguments."
She asked Judge Wooldridge to sentence him to less than 10 years, but Meade's mother offered powerful testimony, herself. She said Logan deserved to pay dearly for his actions and she hoped he "rots in hell" for taking her son's life. She also told how painful it was to lose a child.
In the end, Wooldridge imposed the whole, 10 years. Whitestone said he believed the jury's recommendation was "based upon the mother's [earlier] emotional testimony, Casey's testimony during the trial and the repeated playing of the 911 tape."
But the judge said it was a case with many questions and he didn't think they all had, or could be, answered. But, he added, emotion aside, the jury had heard all the facts and he wasn't going to modify its decision.
Since there's no parole, inmates on good behavior generally serve 85 percent of their sentences, so that would mean 8 1/2 years for Logan. But since he's already spent a year in jail, he has 7 1/2 more years to go. Afterward, he'll be on post-release supervision for another year.