A King County jury found a 29-year-old Kent man not guilty due to self-defense in the 2021 fatal shooting of Marcus Golden at a Kent apartment complex.
Darian Dion Downing was charged with second-degree murder by King County prosecutors in the March 30, 2021 death of Golden, 28, at the Mosaic Hills Apartments, 10811 SE 239th Place, now known as The Groves Apartments.
The King County Superior Court jury in Kent issued its not guilty verdict on Jan. 24, according to a Jan. 30 email from James Curtis, the attorney who represented Downing. The jury issued its special verdict regarding self-defense on Jan. 25.
“In Washington, a homicide is justified if a person believes that he or she is in danger of great personal injury or a victim of a violent felony,” according to a press release from Curtis.
“Downing’s defense alleged that Golden attempted to assault him with brass knuckles and a tire plug insertion tool,” according to the release. “Ultimately, the jury was asked to decide whether Downing acted reasonably and whether the force used was in proportion to the threat posed by Golden.”
The jury returned a verdict after deliberating for a little over three hours, Curtis said.
Downing cried after the verdict was read by the trial judge, according to the press release. He had spent nearly two years in jail with bail set at $3 million. Because the jury found he acted in self-defense, Downing is entitled to reimbursement for all reasonable costs, including loss of time, legal fees incurred and other expenses involved in his defense.
Curtis argued that the prosecution ignored evidence and witness statements that demonstrated Golden’s intent to assault Downing with weapons.
Prosecutors alleged that Downing shot Golden after an attempt to intervene in a domestic dispute between Downing and his girlfriend. During trial, the jury learned that Golden armed himself with brass knuckles and a tire plug insertion tool to confront Downing over an ongoing noise dispute.
The trial started Dec. 6, 2022 at the Maleng Regional Justice Center in Kent. There was a two-week recess to accommodate the prosecutor’s vacation, Curtis said.
The initial Kent Police report and charging documents listed Renton as the hometown for Downing because he did not have his own residence and that’s where his mother lived, Curtis said. But he had been living in Kent with his girlfriend.
According to charging documents, Golden went to investigate sounds of a woman screaming and crying and a man and a woman yelling inside an apartment above his unit. Kent Police received a 911 call at about 1:43 a.m. on March 30 to report a dispute in the apartment.
When officers arrived they found Golden laying on the ground floor stairwell between the first and second floor of the 1B building. He died at the scene of a gunshot wound to the chest.
Downing fled the scene after the shooting, according to charging papers. Kent Police arrested Downing April 13, 2021 as he left his mother’s apartment in Renton. Detectives tried to question him but he requested a lawyer and the interview ended.
A roommate of Golden called police about the fight between a man and a woman in the apartment above them. He said Golden left the apartment to head toward the unit to do something about the dispute. The roommate followed Golden but was suddenly pushed back down the stairs as Downing reportedly came out of the unit and down the stairs toward them.
Downing then allegedly pulled a gun and shot Golden before running from the building.
Detectives talked to the woman who was in the apartment with Downing. She was reluctant to provide information but eventually stated his name. She later said they had argued about using his vehicle, a Chevrolet Camaro that was still in the parking lot.
Police used cellphone records, video surveillance from the apartment complex and witness statements to connect Downing to the shooting.
The charging documents didn’t state anything about Golden wearing brass knuckles or carrying a tire plug insertion tool as he approached Downing.
The King County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office has not returned an email for comment about the verdict.
“Downing will now be tasked with rebuilding his life after two years of incarceration,” Curtis said.