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Defense attorney claims funeral director acted in self defense in deadly shooting at Prince George's cemetery

Wilson Chavis is accused of opening fire twice at the burial of a 10-year-old girl, killing a pallbearer and injuring another mourner at her funeral.

UPPER MARLBORO, Md. — The lawyer for the mortician accused of shooting up a 10-year-old’s funeral claimed Friday that he acted in self-defense.

Police blame a long-running feud between rival funeral homes for Tuesday’s shooting at Washington National Cemetery in Suitland.

But a District Court judge in Upper Marlboro ordered Wilson Chavis held without bond, saying anyone who would take a gun to the burial of a child and open fire – twice – is clearly a danger to the community.

Supporters of Chavis tried to convince the judge that he was the victim. Defense attorney Antoini Jones told Judge Ada Clark-Edwards that someone associated with the pastor conducting the service for 10-year-old Arianna Davis – herself a victim of gun violence on Mother’s Day -- had argued with Chavis, and then gone to his vehicle, as though to retrieve a gun.

Neither the judge nor the prosecutor was buying it. 

“It baffles me that anyone would address a beef they have with others at a funeral service," said Aisha Braveboy, the Prince George's County State's Attorney.

Prosecutors said Chavis was the aggressor, that he threatened to kill the pastor conducting the service at the cemetery, saying, "I’m here for all you!" and "I have an embalming table for you."

After tripping over a rope, prosecutors argue Chavis shot and killed one of the pallbearers, and then shot and injured another mourner, a 39-year-old woman.

“The name of the funeral home Mr. Chavis owns is Compassion and Serenity Home, neither of which he displayed that day," Braveboy said.

Prosecutors said the shooting was the culmination of the feud between Chavis and another funeral home, Freeman's. 

Issac Lambert is the father of Ronald Banks, who was killed.

“I’ve been on Earth way longer than him, and he has more friends than I will ever have,” said Issac Lambert --  the father of Robert Banks, the man who was killed in the shooting. 

Prosecutors presented two new pieces of evidence Friday. One was a peace order filed against Chavis by owners of Freeman saying he threatened to kill them repeatedly. Assistant State's Attorney William Porter said investigators had received a phone call from another man who says he pulled a gun and threatened to kill him too. He said they're still investigating that call.

But Chavis' fiancé told someone on the phone on her way out of the courthouse that she knew who made the call. 

"The guy who tried to run Wes over with his dogs at the funeral home," she told the person on the phone, before declining to talk to a reporter.

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