The man charged with attacking Dave Chappelle onstage at the Hollywood Bowl last May was acting paranoid and aggressive – and leaving strange notes – before he allegedly rushed his roommate and stabbed him at a transitional housing complex in Los Angeles last December, the alleged victim testified Friday.
In the days leading up to Isaiah Lee allegedly rushing the roommate in their kitchen, knocking him to the ground and plunging an approximately three-inch blade into his left abdomen, Lee repeatedly accused the roommate of stealing a mason jar, Dijon Washington testified Friday, got in Washington’s face, bragged about “how much weed he was smoking” and dissed the roommate’s dead brother.
Washington, the only witness called at Lee’s probable cause hearing in the attempted murder case, said he believes the knife used in his attack was the same one found on Lee after Chappelle was tackled onstage. He said the blade diameter appeared to match his scar, and Lee was able to conceal the weapon as he approached, leading him to believe it was a folding knife. (After Lee’s arrest, Los Angeles Police released a photo of the unusual knife recovered from the scene, revealing it was about a three-inch folding blade housed inside a small replica gun.)
Under cross examination by Lee’s defense lawyer, Washington admitted Friday he never got a good look at the knife used in his alleged attack. Asked about the five notes Lee left for him on his bed and on the wall a day before the incident, Washington described them as disturbing.
“He was saying, ‘I’m smoking on your brother,’ bragging about how much money he’s making – whatever he was doing – how much weed he was smoking, how what I was smoking was only a small amount. Things like that. It didn’t make sense to me,” Washington said. “He knew my brother had passed away few months before that. It was disrespectful.”
Washington said his alleged stabbing unfolded around 12:15 a.m. on December 2, 2021. He recalled being in the apartment’s kitchen, turning to see that Lee had returned home and chuckling to himself because he recalled the strange notes. He said Lee responded by saying, “What the fuck are you looking at?” and then proceeded to rush him, pushing him into a trash can.
“We started tussling, and I got stabbed,” Washington said. He said he spent a week in the hospital, undergoing surgery to have his “small and large intestine sewn back up.”
Washintgon said Lee evaded police by running from the scene. He said as soon as he saw media coverage of the Chappelle attack, he recognized Lee. “Me seeing that made me realize who it was, that this was the same person who ran off,” Washington testified.
Lee, 23, sat quietly through the hearing Friday and didn’t appear to react as Judge Kevin Stennis said there was enough evidence to send him to trial for the attempted murder charge. The judge also held his bail at $1 million.
A new arraignment date was set for Sept. 30.
In his separate Chappelle-related case, Lee has pleaded not guilty to misdemeanor battery, misdemeanor possession of a deadly weapon with intent to assault and two violations for storming the stage and interfering with a performance. Los Angeles County District Attorney George Gascón faced criticism for not charging the Chappelle attack as a felony, but the city’s top prosecutor said it was only after Lee tackled Chappelle and then ran backstage that he allegedly reached in his waistband for the weapon, which was knocked out of his hands by a security guard.
Lee’s brother, Aaron Lee, previously told Rolling Stone that Lee has been in and out of homeless shelters in Los Angeles in recent years and has struggled with his mental health.
“He does take psych medicine, and that probably was a factor. And then maybe something triggered him acting like that. I don’t know,” Aaron Lee says. “He’s not the type of person to attack you for no reason. But if he’s not on his medication, and if he feels everyone is against him, maybe that’s it.”