District Man Pleads Guilty to First-Degree Murder While Armed In July 4, 2015 Slaying of Kevin Sutherland
Defendant Fatally Stabbed Victim On Board a Metrorail Train
WASHINGTON – Jasper Spires, 21, of Washington, D.C., pled guilty today to a charge of first-degree murder while armed for the July 4, 2015 slaying of Kevin Sutherland on a Metrorail train, announced U.S. Attorney Jessie K. Liu, Peter Newsham, Chief of the Metropolitan Police Department (MPD), and Ron Pavlik, Chief of the Metro Transit Police.
Spires pled guilty in the Superior Court of the District of Columbia. The plea, which is contingent upon the Court’s approval, calls for an agreed-upon sentence in the range of 30 to 35 years. The Honorable Judith Bartnoff set a hearing for Jan. 12, 2018 to determine whether to accept the plea and sentencing range.
According to a proffer of facts submitted at the plea hearing, on July 4, 2015, at approximately 12:43 p.m., Spires was standing near the fare machines at the entrance to the Rhode Island Avenue – Brentwood Metro Station, in the 900 block of Rhode Island Avenue NE, when 24-year-old Kevin Sutherland entered the station. Mr. Sutherland proceeded through the turnstiles and up the escalator to the platform, where he walked toward the front end of the platform to wait for a downtown-bound Red Line train.
A short while later, Spires followed through the entrance and up the escalator. As he stepped off the escalator and onto the platform, Metro digital surveillance cameras captured Spires putting gloves on his hands. Spires also walked towards the front end of the platform.
When a downtown-bound Red Line train arrived, both Spires and Mr. Sutherland boarded the second car of the train. Mr. Sutherland sat down near the middle of the car, in a seat facing inward, towards the center of the car. As the train traveled between the Rhode Island Avenue and NOMA-Gallaudet University Metro stations, Spires approached Mr. Sutherland and snatched Mr. Sutherland’s cellphone from his hand. Spires then began to attack Mr. Sutherland with a knife. He stabbed Mr. Sutherland repeatedly in the abdomen, upper right back, left side, right side, left arm, and right arm. As Spires stabbed him, Mr. Sutherland fell to the floor of the train. Spires continued to stab Mr. Sutherland as he lay on the floor. He also kicked Mr. Sutherland in the body and head. At the end of the attack, Spires threw Mr. Sutherland’s cellphone at him, striking him in the head.
During this attack, witnesses aboard the train attempted to notify the train’s operator. Spires menaced one of these witnesses with his knife and told the witness to “Shut up.” He also menaced two other witnesses on the train with a knife and took their property. When the train pulled into the NOMA-Gallaudet station, Spires walked off the train and ran down the stairs leaving the platform. He discarded the knife in a trashcan before continuing his flight. As he hopped the exit turnstiles of the station, Spires dropped a backpack. He hesitated for a moment, as though he would stop to pick up the backpack, but then continued his flight without retrieving the backpack. Meanwhile, Metro employees and some civilians who had been on the train with Mr. Sutherland called 911, and some witnesses sat with Mr. Sutherland as they waited for emergency personnel to arrive. By the time first responders got to the scene, Mr. Sutherland was unresponsive and emergency personnel pronounced Mr. Sutherland to be deceased.
Spires was arrested on July 6, 2015, and has been in custody ever since.
The Office of the Chief Medical Examiner for the District of Columbia conducted an autopsy on Mr. Sutherland. During the autopsy, the deputy medical examiner observed 19 stab wounds and 16 cutting wounds on Mr. Sutherland’s body. Several of the stab wounds were very deep and caused damage to Mr. Sutherland’s internal organs.
In announcing the plea, U.S. Attorney Liu, Chief Newsham, and Chief Pavlik commended the work of the Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) and the Metro Transit Police. They also expressed appreciation for the assistance provided by the District of Columbia Department of Forensic Sciences and Bode Cellmark Forensics.
They acknowledged the efforts of those who worked on the case from the U.S. Attorney’s Office, including Assistant U.S. Attorneys Sharon Donovan, David Gorman, Michelle D. Jackson, Colleen M. Kennedy, Silvia Gonzalez-Roman, Mark Aziz, Kara Traster, and Anwar Graves; Michael Ambrosino, Special Counsel for DNA and Forensic Evidence Litigation; Forensic Operation Program Specialist Benjamin Kagan-Guthrie; Criminal Investigators Durand Odom and Mark Crawford; Investigative Analyst Zachary McMenamin; Litigation Technology Specialist Leif Hickling; Paralegal Specialists Kelly Blakeney, Sandra Lane, Lashone Samuels, and Michelle Chambers; former Paralegal Specialists Karen Hansen and Vanessa Trent- Valentine; the Victim/Witness Assistance Unit, including Victim/Witness Advocates Jennifer Clark and Marcia Rinker and Victim/Witness Services Coordinator Katina Adams-Washington, and Administrative Services Specialist Sallie Rynas.
Finally, they commended the work of Assistant U.S. Attorneys Christine Macey and Kathryn Rakoczy, who investigated and prosecuted the case.