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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Friday, October 26, 2012

For Information Contact:
Public Affairs
(202) 252-6933
http://www.justice.gov/usao/dc/index.html

 

 

 

District Man Convicted of First-Degree Felony Murder
And Other Charges in Murder at Northwest Washington Store
- Store Owner Fatally Shot During Robbery-

     WASHINGTON - Dowen Knight, 48, of Washington, D.C., was found guilty today of first-degree felony murder while armed and related charges in the 2009 slaying of the owner of a store in Northwest Washington, U.S. Attorney Ronald C. Machen Jr. announced.

     A jury returned the guilty verdicts after a trial in the Superior Court of the District of Columbia. Knight, who was convicted of 12 counts, is scheduled to be sentenced by the Honorable Florence Y. Pan on Feb. 1, 2013. He faces a maximum sentence of life in prison.

     According to the evidence presented at trial, at approximately 9 p.m. on Nov. 7, 2009, Knight and an accomplice entered La Casa de Morata, a liquor store in the 5400 block of Georgia Avenue NW. The store owner, Rufina Hernandez, 51, and her son were working there at the time.

     Knight pulled a pistol, went behind the counter, and approached Ms. Hernandez. Upon seeing this, Ms. Hernandez’s son attempted to come to her assistance, but the accomplice ordered him not to move. As Knight approached Ms. Hernandez, she opened the cash register and invited him to take the money. Knight reached inside, took the bills and then fired a single shot, striking her in the left side of her chin.  Knight then pointed the gun at the son and ordered him to the floor. However, the son refused and backed into the storage room. Then both men fled the store.

     When officers of the Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) arrived on the scene, they found Ms. Hernandez standing outside, being held upright by her son, who was still grasping the cell phone which he had used to make the 911 call. Paramedics transported her to the Washington Hospital Center. However, she succumbed to her injuries and was pronounced dead at the hospital.  

     The accomplice is currently awaiting sentencing in the case.

     In announcing these verdicts, U.S. Attorney Machen praised the work of the MPD detectives, officers, crime scene technicians, and forensics specialists who worked on the case. He also praised those who worked on the case from the U.S. Attorney’s Office, including Paralegal Specialist Alesha Matthews Yette and Litigation Technology Specialists Kimberly Smith, Leif Hickling, Paul Howell and William Henderson.  Finally, he commended the efforts of Assistant U.S. Attorney Gary Wheeler, who secured the indictment in the case and handled the prosecution at trial.

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