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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
District of Columbia

Monday, December 15, 2014

District Man Found Guilty Of 1997 Murder Of Woman In Northwest WashingtonDNA Linked Defendant To Crime

     WASHINGTON – John F. General, 50, formerly of Washington, D.C., was found guilty by a jury today of second-degree murder for the 1997 murder of a woman in Northwest Washington, U.S. Attorney Ronald C. Machen Jr. announced.

     The verdict followed a trial in the Superior Court of the District of Columbia. The Honorable Lynn Leibovitz scheduled sentencing for Feb. 27, 2015.

     According to the government’s evidence, on the morning of Nov. 26, 1997, the partially clothed body of the victim, Deborah McKinney, was discovered in a stairwell of an apartment building in the 900 block of M Street NW. The District of Columbia’s Office of the Chief Medical Examiner determined that Ms. McKinney, 38, was killed by means of asphyxiation.

     Although there were no eyewitnesses to this murder, the government’s evidence showed that Ms. McKinney encountered the defendant and that a violent encounter ensued.

     General was identified as a suspect in January 2010 through the Combined DNA Index System (CODIS), a web of state and national databases containing DNA profiles from convicted offenders and crime scenes that is used as an investigative tool. General’s DNA was in the system as a result of an earlier conviction in a case in the District of Columbia. DNA testing confirmed that his blood and semen were on the scene of Ms. McKinney’s attack.

     He was arrested in May of 2010 and is in custody pending his sentencing.

     This case is among a series of successful prosecutions of older homicide cases following investigations by the Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) and the U.S. Attorney’s Office. Working with the MPD and other law enforcement partners, the U.S. Attorney’s Office has a specially designated Cold Case Unit that prosecutes these older cases. All told, more than 20 defendants have been convicted of older homicides since 2009.

     In announcing the verdict, U.S. Attorney Machen commended the work of those who investigated the case from the Metropolitan Police Department. He also expressed appreciation for the assistance provided by the District of Columbia’s Office of the Chief Medical Examiner and the District of Columbia Department of Forensic Services. He acknowledged the efforts of those who worked on the case from the U.S. Attorney’s Office, including former Assistant U.S. Attorney Amanda Haines; Michael Ambrosino, Special Counsel for DNA and Forensic Evidence Litigation; Litigation Technology Specialist Leif Hickling; Paralegal Specialists Sandra Lane, Mia Beamon, and Paralegal Specialists Jason Manuel and Benjamin Kagan-Guthrie, and Victim/Witness Security Specialists David Foster and Katina Adams. 

     Finally, he commended the work of Assistant U.S. Attorneys Sharon Donovan and Adrienne Dedjinou, who prosecuted the case.


Updated February 19, 2015