WASHINGTON - Rico Rodrigus Williams, 33, a former Air Force senior airman, was convicted today of second degree murder and witness tampering charges in connection with the death of Army Sergeant Juwan Johnson in Hohenecken, Germany, in 2005, announced Assistant Attorney General Lanny A. Breuer of the Criminal Division, U.S. Attorney Ronald C. Machen Jr. of the District of Columbia and Brigadier General Kevin J. Jacobsen, Commander of the Air Force Office of Special Investigations.
Following a 16-day trial in U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, a jury convicted Williams of one count of second degree murder and one count of witness tampering. Williams was acquitted of a second count of witness tampering. U.S. District Judge Paul L. Friedman has not yet scheduled a sentencing date. The defendant faces up to life in prison.
According to the government’s evidence, Williams was the leader of a gang, the Gangster Disciples sect, in Ramstein, Germany. On July 3, 2005, Williams and others gathered in the small town of Hohenecken near the Ramstein Air Base, and killed 25-year-old Johnson in a gang initiation ceremony.
Evidence presented at trial showed that the defendant and others struck Johnson with their fists and kicked him. Johnson died the following day from blunt force trauma injuries, including hemorrhaging to the brain and heart.
According to evidence presented at trial, Williams later attempted to intimidate and made threats to another witness with the intent to hinder communication to law enforcement regarding Johnson’s death.
Williams is the sixth person to be convicted of charges in the investigation into Johnson’s death. Airman Nicholas Sims, Army Private Terrance Norman and Army Sergeant Rodney Howell were convicted in military court proceedings of involuntary manslaughter. Airman Jerome Jones was convicted in military court proceedings of conspiracy to commit assault, obstruction of justice, gang participation and other charges. Army Specialist Bobby Morissette was convicted in military court proceedings of gang participation and other charges.
“Today, a federal jury has held Rico Williams accountable for his role in the senseless and tragic death of Army Sergeant Johnson,” said Assistant Attorney General Breuer. “Gang-related violence shatters the lives of far too many Americans, including those abroad. The Justice Department is committed to ensuring that criminals who participate in such heinous acts are punished for their crimes.”
“Rico Williams led the Gangster Disciples in a savage gang-initiation ritual that led to the beating death of Army Sergeant Johnson,” U.S. Attorney Machen stated. “These guilty verdicts make him the sixth person to be convicted in connection with his brutal beating death. We hope this conviction brings some measure of justice for Sergeant Johnson and his family.”
The case was prosecuted by Trial Attorney Christine Duey of the Criminal Division’s Human Rights and Special Prosecutions Section and Assistant U.S. Attorney Debra Long-Doyle of the District of Columbia. The case was investigated by the Air Force Office of Special Investigations and the Chesapeake Police Department.