FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Thursday, September 6, 2012
For Information Contact:
District Man Sentenced to 11-Year Prison Term
On Charge Stemming From Shooting in Northeast Washington
- Defendant Fired Two Shots, Hitting Victim Once -
WASHINGTON – Joseph Coward, 32, of Washington, D.C., was sentenced today to an 11-year prison term for a weapons charge in connection with a shooting earlier this year in Northeast Washington, U.S. Attorney Ronald C. Machen Jr. announced.
Coward pled guilty in July 2012 in the Superior Court of the District of Columbia to the felony charge of possession of a firearm during a crime of violence. The charge carries a minimum statutory penalty of five years of imprisonment and a maximum of 15 years. The Honorable Lynn Leibovitz, who sentenced Coward this morning, also ordered that he be placed on three years of supervised release upon completion of his prison term.
According to the government’s evidence, on May 6, 2012, Coward got into a confrontation with a family member of the victim. Coward accused that family member of damaging the vehicle of Coward’s friend. When the family member denied causing the damage, Coward challenged him to a fight. Coward lost the fight and ran away. The family member went home.
Later that evening, at approximately 9:35 p.m., Coward rode his bicycle to the 4900 block of Fitch Place NE. He loitered there on his bicycle, presumably waiting for the victim’s family member to come outside. Instead, the victim came outside. The victim did not know Coward.
As the victim walked down the street, Coward rode his bicycle toward her and shot at her with a gun. Coward missed the victim with the first shot. The victim then sprayed him with pepper spray or mace in self-defense. As Coward ran away from the victim, he shot her again. This time, he struck her on the right side. Coward then ran away, leaving his bicycle behind. The victim collapsed due to the gunshot wound. Coward was arrested for this offense on June 7, 2012.
In announcing the sentence, U.S. Attorney Machen commended the work of the Sixth District detectives and officers of the Metropolitan Police Department. He also expressed appreciation to those who worked on the case from the U.S. Attorney’s Office, including Assistant U.S. Attorney Kimberly Nielsen, Paralegal Specialist Antoinette Sakamsa, Victim Witness Security Specialist Tanya Via and Victim Witness Program Specialist James Brennan. Finally, U.S. Attorney Machen praised Assistant U.S. Attorney Shana L. Fulton, who prosecuted the case.