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Justice News

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

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

District Man Pleads Guilty To Voluntary Manslaughter While Armed In 1995 Slaying In Northwest Washington-Defendant Admits Shooting Victim, A Friend, Then Fleeing The Scene-

     WASHINGTON – Maurice Fair, 35, of Washington, D.C., pled guilty today to a charge of voluntary manslaughter while armed in a slaying that took place in 1995 at an apartment in Northwest Washington, U.S. Attorney Ronald C. Machen Jr. announced.

     Fair pled guilty in the Superior Court of the District of Columbia. The plea agreement, which is contingent upon the Court’s approval, calls for a 10-year prison term. The Honorable Herbert B. Dixon, Jr. scheduled sentencing for July 16, 2013. 

     According to the government’s evidence, the victim, James W. Belton, 18, was fatally shot on Oct. 5, 1995. Fair, who was then 17, had gone to Mr. Belton’s apartment, in the 1400 block of Sheridan Street NW, to smoke marijuana. While there, he shot Mr. Belton twice in the head with a .38-caliber revolver, causing Mr. Belton’s death.  At the time of the murder, no arrests or leads were developed linking the defendant to the slaying.

     On July 4, 2004, Fair approached police and told them he had set his mother’s house on fire.  He was transported to a hospital for a mental health evaluation. While at the hospital, the defendant, spontaneously, told hospital staff that he shot and killed a man eight years earlier with a .38-caliber gun.  He was not arrested for the homicide at that time. 

     Fair was arrested and interviewed on Oct. 23, 2007 by detectives from the Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) in relation to the death of Mr. Belton. He told police that while visiting Mr. Belton on Oct. 5, 1995, he became paranoid and thought that Mr. Belton and another individual (who was not present) were going to rob and hurt him.  He subsequently shot Mr. Belton in the head. At the time that Mr. Belton was shot, he was seated on a couch, unarmed, and had not done anything to suggest to Fair that he was going to rob or hurt him.  After the shooting, Fair left the scene on a bicycle.

     In announcing the guilty plea, U.S. Attorney Machen praised the work of the MPD detectives and officers who investigated the case.  He also acknowledged the effort of those who worked on the case from the U.S. Attorney’s office, including Paralegal Specialist Kelly Blakeney, and Victim/Witness Advocate Marcia Rinker.  Finally, he praised the work of Assistant U.S. Attorneys Ed Burley, who indicted the case, Steve Snyder, who worked on the investigation, and Cynthia G. Wright, who is prosecuting the matter.


Updated February 19, 2015