FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Friday, March 23, 2012
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Man Sentenced to 35 Years in Prison on Murder Charges
In Fiery Assault That Led to Death of Manager of Good Guys Club
- Defendant Already Was Serving Prison Term on Related Charges -
WASHINGTON - Vasile Graure, 41, was sentenced today to a prison term of 35 years on a charge of felony murder while armed with aggravating circumstances in connection with an arson at a Northwest Washington club that led to a man’s death.
The sentencing, which took place in the Superior Court of the District of Columbia, was announced by U.S. Attorney Ronald C. Machen Jr., Cathy L. Lanier, Chief of the Metropolitan Police Department, and Daniel Kumor, Acting Special Agent in Charge of the Washington Division of the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.
Graure was convicted by a jury in January 2012 of felony murder while armed with aggravating circumstances and second-degree murder while armed. He was sentenced by the Honorable Thomas J. Motley. The judge sentenced Graure to 24 years in prison for the second-degree murder charge, with that time running concurrently with the 35-year sentence that he imposed today for felony murder.
The fire took place November 3, 2007, at the Good Guys Club, 2311 Wisconsin Avenue, NW. The victim, Vladimir Djordjevic, 28, died May 17, 2010. Graure, of Phoenix, Ariz., was visiting the District of Columbia at the time of the crime.
Graure is currently serving a prison sentence following his conviction on November 20, 2008 of numerous other charges in this case. That day, a D.C. Superior Court jury found him guilty of various non-murder offenses, including assault with intent to kill while armed (gasoline and a lighter); assault with a dangerous weapon; aggravated assault while armed (gasoline and a lighter); mayhem while armed; arson; burglary, and felony destruction of property.
At the time of the first trial, the primary burn victim in the assault, Mr. Djordjevic, was still being treated for the life-threatening burns to his body.
The government’s evidence established that shortly before 8 p.m. on November 3, 2007, Graure was asked to leave the Good Guys club for taking a photograph of one of the establishment’s dancers in violation of club rules. Graure then walked up Wisconsin Avenue to a gas station, where he purchased a two-gallon gas container, a lighter and gasoline before returning to the club. Upon his return, Graure was confronted by Mr. Djordjevic, the manager at the club, who struggled with Graure in an effort to get the gas can.
Despite Mr. Djordjevic’s efforts, Graure succeeded in pouring gasoline all over the front of the club and Mr. Djordjevic before lighting the gasoline on fire. The fire quickly spread through the club and engulfed Mr. Djordjevic in flames. Before being able to douse the flames, Mr. Djordjevic suffered second- and third-degree burns to 90% of his body.
According to the government’s evidence, Graure fled the scene and attempted to evade police by retreating to a Day’s Inn hotel in Alexandria, Virginia, where he self-treated his own serious burn injuries received in the fire. Despite the defendant’s efforts, Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) detectives ultimately identified him as the assailant through bank records and arranged for his apprehension in Virginia.
In March, 2009, the Honorable Judge Robert I. Richter sentenced Graure to consecutive sentences totaling 30 years and 8 months for the assaults with intent to kill while armed on Mr. Djordjevic and others, as well as the related counts.
After continuous hospitalization and intensive medical treatment, Mr. Djordjevic ultimately succumbed to complications emanating from the burn injuries he sustained in the fire. Graure, who was serving his sentence at the time, was subsequently indicted for murder.
“This additional prison sentence – on top of the 30 years that this arsonist is already serving – holds him fully accountable for burning a man to death,” said U.S. Attorney Machen. “A club manager was doused in gasoline, set on fire, and lingered for years before finally succumbing to his severe injuries. A lifetime behind bars is just punishment for inflicting such needless pain on another human being.”
“This was a horrific crime, in which the victim suffered life-altering injuries and eventually died,” said Chief Lanier. “Today’s sentencing demonstrates once again that we will work seamlessly with our law enforcement partners to ensure that those who commit vicious acts in the District of Columbia are brought to justice.”
“Our thoughts today are with the family of Mr. Djordjevic,” said Acting Special Agent in Charge Kumor. “The ATF agents, MPD Detectives, D.C. Fire and EMS investigators, Alexandria PD detectives, and ATF laboratory personnel worked hard to bring this investigation to a successful conclusion. While today’s sentence can’t bring Mr. Djordjevic back, we hope that the family can now have a sense of closure.”
In announcing the sentence, U.S. Attorney Machen, Chief Lanier, and Acting Special Agent in Charge Kumor commended the work of MPD Detectives Frank Molino and Todd Gray, ATF Special Agents Eric Pena and Vicky Houser, of the Arson Task Force, Detective Richard Espinosa of the MPD Financial Crimes Unit, MPD Second District Officer Robert Fennell, Technicians Carmen Pagan and Kemper Agee of the MPD Mobile Crime Unit, Officer Scott Wilson of the D.C. Fire and Emergency Medical Services Department, Detective Irv Ellman of the Alexandria, Va., Police Department, and Michelle Reardon of the ATF Forensic Science Lab. They also commended U.S. Attorney’s Office Paralegal Specialists Ethel Gregory, Peggy Pamplin, Nicole Humphries, and Elliot Chiu; Leif Hickling, Jeanie Latimore-Brown, Paul Howell and Joe Calvarese, of the U.S. Attorney’s Office Litigation Technology Section, and Assistant U.S. Attorney Suzanne Curt, of the Appellate Division. Finally, they commended Assistant U.S. Attorneys Pat Martin and Kacie Weston, who investigated and prosecuted the case.