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Friday, October 12, 2012

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District Man Convicted of Second-Degree Murder While Armed
In 1998 Slaying of Woman in Southeast Washington
-Victim, Shot in the Face, Was an Innocent Bystander-

     WASHINGTON – Cedrick Shuler, 36, formerly of Washington, D.C., has been found guilty by a jury of second-degree murder while armed in the 1998 slaying of a woman in Southeast Washington, U.S. Attorney Ronald C. Machen Jr. and Cathy L. Lanier, Chief of the Metropolitan Police Department (MPD), announced today.

     A jury returned its guilty verdict on Oct. 11, 2012, following a week-long trial in the Superior Court of the District of Columbia. The Honorable William M. Jackson scheduled sentencing for Dec. 14, 2012. Shuler faces 20 years to life in prison.

     According to the government’s evidence, Shuler killed the victim, Renee LaShawn Best, 26, on the evening of Feb. 22, 1998. The shooting came hours after another related killing.

     The government’s evidence at trial proved that in the early morning hours of Feb. 22, 1998, 27-year-old Hosea Stringfield was murdered, allegedly by Walter Jones, in front of a carryout in the 5000 block of Benning Road SE. The motive for Mr. Stringfield’s murder appears to be a dispute involving a woman. As news of the murder made its way throughout the community, Shuler formulated a plan that day to retaliate. 

     Enlisting two other close associates, Shuler located Jones, who he believed was responsible for the murder of Mr. Stringfield, finding him in the 4600 block of Hillside Road SE. According to witnesses, at about 8 p.m., Shuler walked up to Jones, who was standing outside and talking to Ms. Best. He shot Ms. Best – an innocent bystander – in the face before turning his attention to Jones, who he shot in the legs. Ms. Best was able to crawl to her nearby residence, where she wrote a note begging her best friend to please call 911, before she died. 

     Jones, now 38, was arrested in August 2010 for the killing of Mr. Stringfield and is awaiting trial in June 2013. He has pled not guilty.

     Shuler was charged with the murder of Ms. Best in July 2011, following a renewed investigation by MPD, the U.S. Park Police, and the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

     “Nearly 15 years ago, a young woman named Renee Best was murdered as an innocent bystander to a retaliatory shooting,” said U.S. Attorney Machen. “Now a jury has held Renee Best’s killer accountable, providing a powerful reminder that it is never too late for justice to be served.  We hope that this conviction demonstrates to the community the depth of our commitment to solving cold cases and holding murderers responsible for the tremendous trauma they have caused.  I especially want to express appreciation to the prosecutors and police investigators who worked so hard to bring this murderer to justice after 15 years.”

     “This case highlights our efforts to bring criminals to justice no matter how much time has passed,” said Chief Lanier. “I commend the detectives for their hard work in this case.”

     The conviction was the latest in a series of successful prosecutions of older homicide cases. Since 2009, working with MPD and other law enforcement partners, the U.S. Attorney’s Office has obtained convictions in more than 10 cases in which the murder took place at least eight years earlier.

     Shuler also is facing murder charges in two other older homicides. He is due to stand trial in May 2013 for the Feb. 25, 1999 killing of Kelvin Howard and the March 22, 1999 killing of Edward Gray. Shuler has pled not guilty to the charges.

     In announcing the verdict, U.S. Attorney Machen and Chief Lanier expressed appreciation for the work of the detectives, mobile crime scene technicians and officers who investigated the case for the MPD and the U.S. Park Police. They also acknowledged the efforts of Dr. Luis Sanchez, Chief Medical Examiner for the Harris County Institute of Forensic Sciences. They thanked those who worked on the case from the U.S. Attorney’s Office, including Victim/Witness Advocate Yvonne Bryant, Paralegal Specialist Debra Joyner, and Intelligence Specialist Larry Grasso. Finally, they commended the work of Assistant U.S. Attorney Amanda Haines, who prosecuted the case.





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