FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Tuesday, April 30, 2013
For Information Contact:
District Man Found Guilty of First-Degree Felony Murder
And Other Charges in Killing of 18-Year-Old Latisha Frazier
Victim’s Body Was Left in a Dumpster, Never Found;
Total of Seven People Now Convicted in Case
WASHINGTON – Johnnie Sweet, 19, of Washington, D.C., was found guilty by a jury today of first-degree felony murder and other charges in the August 2010 kidnapping and murder of 18-year-old Latisha Frazier, announced U.S. Attorney Ronald C. Machen Jr. and Cathy L. Lanier, Chief of the Metropolitan Police Department (MPD).
The jury returned the verdict following a trial in the Superior Court of the District of Columbia. Sweet was found guilty of first-degree felony murder with aggravating circumstances; first-degree premeditated murder with aggravating circumstances; kidnapping, and tampering with physical evidence. The Honorable Russell F. Canan scheduled sentencing for July 11, 2013. Sweet faces a mandatory minimum of 30 years and a maximum of 60 years of incarceration.
According to the government’s evidence, Sweet was one of the leaders of a group of six young men and women who took part in the murder of Ms. Frazier.
Ms. Frazier vanished on Aug. 2, 2010. For months, her family relentlessly sought to find her, passing out flyers and contacting local news stations to publicize her disappearance. In late January 2011, one witness finally stepped forward and contacted the Metropolitan Police Department, revealing the truth of Ms. Frazier’s whereabouts.
On the day of her disappearance, the government’s evidence showed, Ms. Frazier had been brutally murdered by a group of six young men and women (ages 16 to 23), all of whom she believed to be her friends. The group had suspected - with little evidence - that Ms. Frazier had stolen about $900 from Sweet. Sweet recruited others and exacted a plan of revenge in which they would call her over to an apartment where they claimed to be socializing.
When Ms. Frazier arrived at the apartment in the 1700 block of Trenton Place SE, the group took her to a small bedroom where Sweet and others punched, kicked, and stomped her all over her body. Ignoring her pleas for them to stop, they bound her in duct tape, taped a pillowcase over her head so she could not scream, and shoved her in a small, dark closet. When she screamed and moaned, one of the members of the group placed her in a sleeper hold to “put her to sleep.” Later, the group discovered that she had died.
To dispose of the body, Sweet helped carry her to the bathtub, where he and his friends attempted to dismember her. That evening, Ms. Frazier’s body was thrown into a dumpster, and it is now believed to be somewhere in one or two landfills in rural Virginia.
Of the seven people charged, six former co-defendants have pled guilty. They include Brian Gaither, 25, who was sentenced earlier this month to a 32-year prison term after pleading guilty to first-degree murder; Laurence Kamal Hassan, 24, who pled guilty to second-degree murder and kidnapping; Cinthya Proctor, 21, who pled guilty to second-degree murder, kidnapping and conspiracy to commit evidence tampering; Anneka Nelson, 18, who pled guilty to second-degree murder and kidnapping; Lanee Bell, 19, who pled guilty to kidnapping, and Antoine McCullough, 27, who pled guilty to conspiracy to commit evidence tampering. Except for Gaither, the other defendants are awaiting sentencing.
“Johnnie Sweet showed no remorse in organizing and participating in the senseless murder of Latisha Frazier. The heinous nature of his actions was only matched by the cowardly manner in which he carried out his crime,” said U.S. Attorney Machen. “Today a jury of twelve District of Columbia residents found him guilty of first-degree felony murder and other charges. Mr. Sweet now faces the prospect of spending the rest of his life behind bars. We can only hope that today's result will bring some measure of closure to Latisha Frazier's family, who will forever grieve the loss of their loved one.”
“This was a brutal crime,” said Chief Lanier. “Hopefully, the family of Latisha Frazier can take some comfort in knowing that the culprits will pay for this horrific offense.”
In announcing the verdict, U.S. Attorney Machen and Chief Lanier praised the work of those who investigated the case for the Metropolitan Police Department (MPD), including detectives from the Major Case/Cold Case Squad and the Seventh District.
They also expressed appreciation for the efforts of those who handled the case for the U.S. Attorney’s Office, including Larry Grasso of the Criminal Intelligence Unit, Victim/Witness Advocate Marcia Rinker, and Paralegal Specialists Kwasi Fields, Phaylyn Hunt, and Angela Lawrence. Finally, they thanked Assistant U.S. Attorneys Christopher R. Kavanaugh and Melinda Williams, who prosecuted the case.13-153