NORFOLK, Va. (WAVY) – Javon Doyle pleaded not guilty in a Norfolk courtroom Wednesday morning and faces first-degree murder charges related to the death of Old Dominion University student Christopher Cummings, the nephew of Congressman Elijah Cummings, the late U.S. representative from Baltimore.
Doyle opted for a jury trial of his peers. On Wednesday, the attorneys selected the 12 jurors and one alternate.
The commonwealth’s attorney offered him a plea deal, but he rejected it. They offered him immunity in exchange for his testimony. Doyle’s attorney, Emily Munn, said he wasn’t going to testify because he simply wasn’t there.
Cummings was shot and killed in his home in the 800 block of West 42nd Street. Commonwealth’s Attorney Cynthia Collard said he was shot in the side and once in the face. His roommate, Jake Carey, was shot through the throat and arm, but survived his injuries.
She described the scene in the opening statements as having “a lot of blood.” Collard painted a picture of a 21-year-old with a bright future and political connections. Cummings was going into his junior year at ODU.
Collard said he was selling “a lot” of “high quality” pot. She said Doyle and his friends picked Cummings’ home “in an effort to obtain money and pot.”
Collard also hinted toward inmates taking the stand to talk about how Doyle bragged about the crime.
Munn focuses on a phrase: “more than one thing can be true.” She said it could be true that he was “probably a good kid,” but he had an “illegal drug dealing operation.”
She said Cummings knew it was a high-crime area. Munn said by dealing drugs he brought danger to his home with the amount of money and drugs.
Munn ended the opening statement by saying police “don’t know today who did it.”
Cummings’ father, James Cummings, took the stand. He was emotional as he described photographs to the jury. He said Cummings was his one and only son. James said he was a great kid and “wasn’t perfect,” but perfect to him.
James said his son was pursuing a criminal justice degree at ODU.
He wasn’t aware of his son’s drug dealing until his death. He said, “I did everything I could to be a good father.”
During cross-examination, Munn brought up that Cummings was asking his father for help buying a gun.
During re-direct, James said his son told him it was for protection after an attempted robbery. He said his son felt uncomfortable after wrestling someone out of his home. According to the lead detective, there was a police report on the attempted robbery.
A fraternity brother and neighbor of Cummings made one of the first 911 calls for help on the day of the shooting.
He said he heard a “muffled sharp pop sound.” He then saw a man jumping off the porch. Baker said the man was in jeans and a hoodie covering his head.
Multiple responding officers also took the stand.
Fire Captain, Michael Murphy, helped render aid to Carey. He said he lost around 200 ccs of blood. Fire Captain James Brant said the call was a “typical shooting response.”
Collard showed pictures of Cummings’ body and his family busted out in tears.
Clayton Messick was a K-9 handler in 2011. His dog got track of the suspect but lost it on the north side of the street.
A friend of Cummings was vital in identifying Doyle.
He said he was on his way to work at Dunkin Donuts. He noticed the door of Cummings’ house was open. He said that was odd, so he thought to call Cummings or Carey to tell them. That’s when he saw a Black man running. He stopped on the sidewalk and jogged the other way. He said he locked eyes with the man and then heard gunshots.
He described the man as wearing shorts with a darker color shirt.
In June of 2012, he identified picture number six out of a 20 photo line-up. Number 6 was Doyle.
Munn asked him on cross-examination if the man in the courtroom was the man he locked eyes with. Cummings’ friend said, “similar but can’t be sure.”
A neighbor across the street from Cummings woke up to a noise. She said she saw a gentleman, who she said wore a white shirt, running down the street.
She said she saw blood everywhere. “It was horrible,” she said.
She ran outside to help Carey and told him to “hang in there.”
Munn pointed out the stark differences in each of the eyewitness’s testimony. Ray Smith, a retired Norfolk Police homicide officer, said, “they may have seen different people.” He added that they saw people in a hurry.
Smith describes how he found the scene. He said the door jam was clearly damaged and a security camera was lying on the porch.
Inside the home, Smith found a $2,000 receipt from Best Buy for a T.V. and around $1,000 in cash.
Munn said it didn’t make sense that the person was trying to steal money and drugs. She said whoever did it left the cash and a bunch of weed.
Days prior to the shooting, Cummings got a five-pound drug shipment worth around $7,000.
The day ended with testimony from Investigator Matthew Burham. He was the forensic investigator at the scene. Matthews reviewed his photos and pictures and described his findings to the jury.
Doyle was arrested in August of 2021.
He faces a total of 14 charges. One charge was dismissed. His list of charges includes:
- First-degree murder
- Conspiracy to commit first-degree murder
- Conspiracy to commit burglary
- Aggravated Malicious wounding of Jake Carey
- Attempt to commit second-degree murder
- Maliciously discharging a firearm in an occupied building
- Attempt to commit robbery
- Felony homicide
- Five charges of use of a firearm in a commission of a felony