FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Friday, February 7, 2014
For Information Contact:
Maryland Man Pleads Guilty to Voluntary Manslaughter
In Traffic Fatality, Admits Striking Pedestrian in Crosswalk
-Driver Was Under Influence of PCP-
WASHINGTON – Woodrow R. Johnson, Jr, 52, of Capitol Heights, Md., pled guilty today to a charge of voluntary manslaughter stemming from a recent traffic fatality in which he struck a pedestrian while he was on PCP, U.S. Attorney Ronald C. Machen Jr. announced.
Johnson entered the plea in the Superior Court of the District of Columbia. The Honorable Rhonda Reid Winston scheduled sentencing for May 15, 2014. Under the plea agreement, contingent upon the Court’s approval, Johnson faces seven years in prison.
According to the government’s evidence, on Friday, Nov. 8, 2013, at about 6:10 p.m., Johnson drove his employer’s van northbound on Benning Road SE. Johnson drove at a high rate of speed and without using his headlights, although night had fallen. Johnson collided with two other cars, causing damage to those cars and injuries to their occupants, but he did not stop.
Instead, Johnson continued to speed toward the intersection of East Capitol Street. As he approached the intersection, traffic in front of Johnson waited at the red light. Johnson swerved into the opposite lanes of traffic, that is, into the southbound lanes of Benning Road, and ran the red light at East Capitol Street. As he did this, he struck and killed Shamika Smith, 24, who was a pedestrian in a crosswalk of Benning Road, crossing from east to west. Ms. Smith suffered severe blunt impact trauma and was pronounced dead on the scene.
Johnson did not slow or stop to avoid striking Ms. Smith, or after striking her. He continued to speed northbound on Benning Road, colliding with an additional three vehicles, causing damages and injuries to their occupants.
With officers from the Metropolitan Police Department following Johnson, he left the roadway and crashed through the fence of a church’s parking lot, colliding with and damaging the church’s parked van. Officers apprehended Johnson, who was still behind the steering wheel. He was disoriented and appeared to veteran officers to be under the influence of PCP. Johnson was taken to a hospital, where he admitted that he had smoked PCP before driving.
In announcing the plea, U.S. Attorney Machen praised those who investigated the case for the Metropolitan Police Department, including members of the Major Crash Investigations Unit and the Sixth District. He also expressed appreciation for those who worked on the case from the U.S. Attorney’s Office, including Paralegal Specialist Sandra Lane and Victim/Witness Advocate Jennifer Clark. Finally, he commended the work of Assistant U.S. Attorney Edward A. O’Connell, who is prosecuting the matter.