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Justice News

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

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Wednesday, February 18, 2015

District Man Pleads Guilty To Second-Degree Murder While Armed In 2013 Slaying Of Howard University Student

-Killing Took Place in Botched Robbery Attempt-

     WASHINGTON – Rasdavid Lagarde, 28, of Washington, D.C., pled guilty today to charges stemming from a botched attempted armed robbery of two Howard University students in which one of the victims was killed, U.S. Attorney Ronald C. Machen Jr. announced.

     Lagarde pled guilty in the Superior Court of the District of Columbia to second-degree murder while armed for the death of 22-year-old Omar Sykes and attempted armed robbery and possession of a firearm during a crime of violence for the attack on the surviving victim.  He is to be sentenced on May 8, 2015, by the Honorable Lynn Leibovitz.  The plea, which is contingent on the Court’s approval, calls for a sentence of 20 to 30 years of incarceration.

     According to the government’s evidence, on July 4, 2013, at about 11:20 p.m., Lagarde and an accomplice were in the 700 block of Fairmont Street NW. Mr. Sykes and another Howard University student were also on the block, walking ahead of them.

     Lagarde’s accomplice pulled out a gun. He ran towards the student who was with Mr. Sykes, and ordered him to the ground. He struck the student in the head multiple times with the gun, hit him in the ribs, and kicked him.  He then ordered the student multiple times not to look at him or Lagarde.  At one point during the assault, Lagarde told the accomplice that he thought the student was looking at him. The accomplice then hit the student yet again.

     During this attack, Lagarde pulled out a gun and approached Mr. Sykes to assist in the robbery.  Lagarde’s accomplice ordered Mr. Sykes to the ground and tried to force him to the ground next to the other victim.  As Lagarde attempted to pistol-whip Mr. Sykes, Lagarde fired his gun at Mr. Sykes.  Mr. Sykes was shot by a single gunshot that traversed through his arm and into his chest.  Lagarde and the accomplice then fled from Fairmont Street.
Mr. Sykes died from the gunshot wound. The other student suffered lacerations to his head, including a huge gash to his forehead that required multiple stitches to treat.  He also suffered several bruised ribs.

     Lagarde was arrested by the Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) on Oct. 15, 2013 for the murder of Mr. Sykes. He told detectives that the accomplice initiated the robbery. However, once the attempted robbery began, Lagarde helped with it. Lagarde admitted that he was armed with a .380 firearm, which he used during the robbery attempt.  Lagarde stated that he did not intend for the gun to fire, but it did fire during a tussle with Mr. Sykes when he tried to force Mr. Sykes to the ground. No other arrests have been made in the case.

     In announcing the guilty plea, U.S. Attorney Machen commended the work of the detectives of the Criminal Investigations Division Homicide Branch, crime scene officers, and the Third Police District of the Metropolitan Police Department, as well as Jacob Kunkle of the FBI’s Cellular Analysis Survey Team. He also expressed appreciation to those who worked on the case from the U.S. Attorney’s Office, including Marcia Rinker, James Brennan, M. Laverne Forrest, Debra Cannon, and Michael Hailey, all of the Victim/Witness Assistance Unit; Paralegal Specialist Vanessa Trent-Valentine; former Paralegal Specialists Fern Rhedrick and Marian Russell; Investigative Analyst Zachary McMenamin, Litigation Technology Specialist Jeanie Latimore-Brown, and Intern Abhi Mehta.  He also praised the efforts of Assistant U.S. Attorneys Shana Fulton and Veronica Sanchez, who investigated, indicted and prosecuted the case.

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Updated February 19, 2015