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DC judge drops murder charge against woman who allegedly stole car with passenger inside and crashed it; passenger later died
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DC judge drops murder charge against woman who allegedly stole car with passenger inside and crashed it; passenger later died

The suspect's parents believe she may have been on 'some sort of drug.'

A woman is dead after a female suspect allegedly stole the car in which the woman was sitting and crashed it into a federal building in Washington, D.C.

At around 12:15 p.m., 55-year-old Leslie Marie Gaines was finishing up a physical therapy session at MedStar National Rehabilitation Hospital near the campus of Howard University in Washington, D.C. Gaines' daughter was then going to drive her home, but Gaines suddenly experienced blurry vision and problems with her legs.

'She didn’t harm nobody. Never had an enemy. You couldn’t find a better person.'

First responders determined that Gaines had not suffered a stroke and that her vital signs were normal except for some elevated blood-sugar levels. They offered to take Gaines to the emergency room entrance in an ambulance, but her daughter claimed she could drive her over since it was in the same medical complex.

Once the daughter arrived at the emergency room entrance, she exited her vehicle and left it running, ostensibly because Gaines was still sitting inside, awake and alert, her daughter later claimed. The daughter then went into the hospital to find a wheelchair for her mother.

After speaking briefly with a nurse, the daughter turned to look outside and discovered with horror that her car — and her mother — were missing. She immediately called 911 to report the apparently stolen vehicle.

Just after 1:30 p.m., a Metro Police captain happened to be in the area when he spotted a white SUV speeding and otherwise barreling erratically down 6th Street NW. He then watched as the SUV crashed into the building that houses a local U.S. Attorney's Office.

The driver of the SUV, later identified as 22-year-old Kayla Kenisha Brown, allegedly attempted to flee the area on foot, but she was quickly apprehended.

Afterward, the captain realized that there was a passenger still inside the crashed vehicle. The woman was later identified as Gaines, and her condition at that point was described as "unconscious" and "unresponsive." The captain attempted to render aid and eventually transported her to George Washington Hospital, where she was later pronounced dead.

Brown was likewise taken to George Washington Hospital for treatment for possible injuries suffered during the crash, but that was not her first trip to a hospital that day. Several hours earlier, someone from her residence had called 911 and asked for help before the call was disconnected.

When officers arrived at the residence, Brown's parents claimed that she had been "acting crazy" for the past three days after meeting up with a man from Instagram. They believe she took "some sort of drug."

First responders then evaluated Brown and found she had a heartrate and blood pressure that were both much too high for someone her age. At about 12:40 p.m. that day, they transported her to MedStar Washington Hospital Center, the same medical complex where Gaines' daughter's car was stolen about a half-hour later.

Surveillance images from court documents seem to show Brown, wearing a coffee-colored sweatsuit and yellow Crocs, approach Gaines' daughter's car and then drive away in it.

Officers initially charged Brown with felony murder, kidnapping, and unarmed carjacking. However, D.C. Superior Court Judge Heide Herrmann dropped the murder and kidnapping charges, claiming that prosecutors had probable cause to support only the unarmed carjacking charge.

Prosecutors claimed they will present their case for the kidnapping and murder charges against Brown to a grand jury.

Brown's attorney, Sylvia Smith, noted in a hearing on Friday before a different D.C. judge, Judge Renee Raymond, that her client had apparently not taken the car violently as it had been left running. She also argued that Gaines' cause of death still remains unknown at this point and that she may have died before the crash.

Raymond ordered Brown to be held without bond, claiming that Brown's "behavior demonstrated … a dangerous series of actions."

Meanwhile, Gaines' loved ones are devastated by their sudden loss.

"She’d give you the clothes off her back, the food out of her kitchen if you need, three daughters that loved her to death," Erica Gaines said of her deceased sister, Leslie Marie. "She didn’t harm nobody. Never had an enemy.

"You couldn’t find a better person."

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Cortney Weil

Cortney Weil

Sr. Editor, News

Cortney Weil is a senior editor for Blaze News.
@cortneyweil →