FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Wednesday, September 25, 2013
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Teenager Pleads Guilty to First-Degree Murder While Armed
In Slaying at Woodley Park Metro Station
-Defendant Is Latest of Those Charged to Plead Guilty;
He Admits Stabbing 18-Year-Old Victim-
WASHINGTON – Chavez Myers, 18, pled guilty today to a charge of first-degree murder while armed in the slaying of 18-year-old Olijawon Griffin at the Woodley Park Metro station, announced U.S. Attorney Ronald C. Machen Jr., Cathy L. Lanier, Chief of the Metropolitan Police Department (MPD), and Ron Pavlik, Chief of the Metro Transit Police.
Myers, of District Heights, Md., entered the plea in the Superior Court of the District of Columbia. The plea, which is contingent upon the Court’s approval, calls for a 30-year prison sentence for the crime. The Honorable Ronna L. Beck scheduled a hearing for Dec. 13, 2013. If she accepts the plea, she will sentence Myers at that time.
Myers, who was 17 at the time of the murder, is the latest defendant to plead guilty to charges in the murder and related crimes. The others include Muquan Cawthorne, 16, of Mount Ranier, Md.; Deon Jefferson, 18, of Landover, Md.; Gary Maye, 17, of Hyattsville, Md.; Immanuel Swann, 18, of Brentwood, Md., and Gary Whittaker, 20, of Hyattsville, Md. Cawthorne, Jefferson, Maye and Swann, like Myers, were under 18 at the time of the murder; the U.S. Attorney’s Office obtained their indictments after deciding to prosecute them as adults.
Cawthorne pled guilty to voluntary manslaughter while armed, armed robbery, and a firearms offense. Jefferson pled guilty to voluntary manslaughter while armed and armed robbery. Maye pled guilty to voluntary manslaughter while armed, armed robbery, and robbery. Swann pled guilty to voluntary manslaughter while armed and two counts of armed robbery. Whittaker pled guilty to voluntary manslaughter while armed, assault with a dangerous weapon, conspiracy, and a firearms offense. They have been in custody since their arrests last year and are to be sentenced on Dec. 13, 2013.
According to the government’s evidence, Myers and the other defendants were part of a group of nine people who conspired on Nov. 16, 2012 and Nov. 17, 2012 to commit robberies in the District of Columbia. Plans called for robbing people of their iPhones and other items of value. The group took a Metro train on the night of Nov. 16, 2012, from the West Hyattsville, Md. station to the Gallery Place/Chinatown station in Northwest Washington. From there, they took another train to the Woodley Park Metro station to begin their crimes. Within a matter of hours, Mr. Griffin would become a victim of the group twice: once, during a robbery in the Adams Morgan area, and finally, the attack at the Metro Station that ended with his death.
“In an act of pure cowardice, 17-year-old Chavez Myers snuck up behind Olijawon Griffin as he was fighting off three of Myers’s associates and stabbed him in the heart inside the Woodley Park Metro station,” said U.S. Attorney Machen. “Today Myers pled guilty to first-degree murder for his crime, and five others have also recently accepted responsibility for their roles in this brutal act of violence and the armed robberies that preceded it. We hope this prosecution sends an unambiguous message to young people tempted to join their friends to carry out robberies and other acts of violence in our city: think before you act because you will be prosecuted as an adult and held responsible for the destruction your actions bring to the lives of others.”
“This was a senseless crime, in which a young man lost his life at the hands of a group of thugs who were determined to rob and steal personal items from unsuspecting victims,” said Police Chief Lanier. “The Metropolitan Police Department and our law enforcement partners will not tolerate this in our city, and these criminals will be held accountable for their actions.”
“Thanks to our strong partnership with Metropolitan Police Department and the United States Attorney’s Office, we were able to ensure that the suspects were apprehended and would face justice,” said Metro Transit Police Chief Pavlik. “In this case, quick response and state-of-the-art digital evidence served the community well.”
According to the government’s evidence, after leaving the Metro station, Myers and the others in the group crossed the Duke Ellington Bridge to the Adams Morgan area to find targets.
The group decided to target Mr. Griffin shortly after midnight, early Nov. 17, 2012, attacking him near a gas station in the 1800 block of Adams Mill Road NW. Mr. Griffin was robbed of his Helly Hansen coat, hat, and iPhone. The nine assailants then walked back toward the Woodley Park Metro station, intending to take a train back to West Hyattsville.
Mr. Griffin and his two companions arrived at the Metro station shortly after the assailants. They approached the assailants in an attempt to get Mr. Griffin’s property back. According to the government’s evidence, the various assailants repeatedly punched, kicked and stomped one of Mr. Griffin’s companions while he was lying prone and defenseless on the floor of the station platform. Once this friend rose to his feet, the group again took him to the ground and repeatedly punched, kicked and stomped him.
Shortly after the attack on the friend ended, Myers went up to the mezzanine level of the station, where the kiosk and fare machines are located. Jefferson, Maye, Whittaker and Swann were among those who also went to the mezzanine level. Mr. Griffin had been attempting to draw the defendants to that level in an effort to get them away from his injured friend. As the confrontation continued, Myers came up from behind Mr. Griffin and stabbed Mr. Griffin, who was unarmed, once in the heart. Mr. Griffin died a short time later.
In announcing the pleas, U.S. Attorney Machen, Chief Lanier and Chief Pavlik commended the work of those who investigated the case from the Metropolitan Police Department and the Metro Transit Police Department. They also expressed appreciation to those who worked on the case from the District of Columbia Office of the Attorney General, including Deputy Attorney General Andrew Fois; Jennifer White, Chief of the Juvenile Section; Barbara Chesser and Linda Monroe, Assistant Chiefs of the Juvenile Section; Assistant Attorney General Marybeth Manfreda, and former Assistant Attorney General Anthony Crispino. The District of Columbia Office of the Attorney General handled the part of this case that involved charges against some of the juveniles who were apprehended after the attack.
U.S. Attorney Machen, Chief Lanier and Chief Pavlik also acknowledged the efforts of those who provided assistance from the U.S. Attorney’s Office, including Paralegal Specialists Alesha Matthews, Kwasi Fields, and Ethel Noble; Criminal Investigator John Marsh; Litigation Technology Specialists Leif Hickling, Will Henderson, and Paul Howell; Victim/Witness Advocate Jennifer Clark, and former interns Ryan Lipes, Flynn Burke, and Lauren Sparks.
Finally, they thanked Assistant U.S. Attorneys Justin Dillon, Kathleen A. Connolly, and Kevin F. Flynn, who investigated and prosecuted the case.