FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Friday, December 9, 2011
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District Man Convicted of First-Degree Murder While Armed
and Other Charges in Random Slaying of Honor Roll Student
- Victim and His Friend Were Accosted and Shot While Walking on Street -
WASHINGTON - Kwan Kearney, 20, was convicted by a jury today of first-degree murder while armed and other charges in the slaying of a 17-year-old honor roll student and the wounding of a second teenager in a random attack that took place last year on a Northeast Washington street, U.S. Attorney Ronald C. Machen Jr. announced.
Kearney, of Washington, D.C., also was convicted of charges of assault with intent to kill while armed, aggravated assault while armed, and a firearms offense. The verdict followed a trial in the Superior Court of the District of Columbia. The Honorable Robert I. Richter scheduled sentencing for February 10, 2012. Kearney faces a potential sentence of life in prison.
According to the government’s evidence, on the evening of November 8, 2010, the decedent, Joseph Sharps, Jr., had just finished his music homework and was visiting with an 18-year-old friend at his home in Northeast Washington. Joseph borrowed $2 from his mother, and he and his friend decided to go to a nearby gas station to buy cigarettes. About 8:30 p.m., on their way back to Joseph’s home, the teenagers passed by Kearney and two other men on the sidewalk in the 1300 block of Holbrook Street NE. As Joseph walked, he had one hand in his pockets and with the other was talking on his cell phone.
As the two groups of young men passed each other, Kearney bumped Joseph. “Stop, pump-faking,” said Kearney. “I’m not pump-faking,” replied Joseph. Kearney confronted him again – “What you reaching for?” Joseph said he wasn’t reaching for anything. According to the testimony of one eyewitness, Joseph then raised his hands and shrugged, as if to say that he had no idea what Kearney was talking about. Kearney then pulled a Colt .38-caliber revolver from his waistband and shot Joseph in the belly. Kearney kept shooting. Joseph’s friend was hit in the leg, and Joseph was also hit in the leg and shoulder.
Joseph managed to call 911, stating, “I’m hit, I’m down on Holbrook.” Soon after that, he died. The wound to the hip went through an artery, causing Joseph to bleed to death on the street.
One of Kearney’s associates also fired a weapon during the attack. Afterward, the assailants ran from the scene.
Neither Joseph Sharps, Jr. nor his friend knew Kearney until they walked by each other on the street that night. In addition to being an honor roll student, Joseph was a varsity basketball and football athlete at Spingarn High School.
“In this tragic case, one teenager killed another for no reason at all,” said U.S. Attorney Machen. “Joseph Sharps, Jr. was an honor roll student and varsity athlete who was gunned down in a senseless act of violence. Today’s first-degree murder conviction, which could place the defendant behind bars for the rest of his life, reflects this community’s resolve to protect our neighborhoods from those who are intent on bringing murder and mayhem to our city streets.”
Kearney was arrested eight days after the shooting and has been in custody ever since. A co-defendant earlier pled guilty to charges in the case.
In announcing the jury’s verdict, U.S. Attorney Machen praised the work of those who investigated the case for the Metropolitan Police Department, including Detectives Anthony Paci and Sean Caine, Officers Douglas Hain, Jerry Afari, Herbert Nicholls and Steven Bias, and Mobile Crime Technicians Robert McCollum, Leother Strong, Michael DePrince and Fred Brown. He also commended the efforts of those who worked on the case for the U.S. Attorney’s Office, including Paralegal Specialist Delissa Rivers, Legal Assistant Lashone Samuels, Intelligence Specialist Sharon Johnson, Litigation Support Specialists Leif Hickling and William Henderson, and Victim Witness Advocate Marcey Rinker. Finally, he praised the work of Assistant U.S. Attorney David Saybolt, who prosecuted the case.