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Press Release

District Man Sentenced To 17 Years In Prison

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, District of Columbia

For Fatal Stabbing in Southeast Washington
-Attack Followed Argument About the Victim’s Dog-

     WASHINGTON – Ellsworth Colbert, 57, was sentenced today to 17 years in prison on charges stemming from a slaying in Southeast Washington during an argument over the victim’s dog, U.S. Attorney Ronald C. Machen Jr. announced.

     Colbert, of Washington, D.C., was found guilty by a jury in January 2013 of manslaughter while armed, assault with a dangerous weapon, and carrying a dangerous weapon. The verdict followed a trial in the Superior Court of the District of Columbia. He was sentenced by the Honorable Herbert B. Dixon, Jr. Upon completion of his prison term, Colbert will be placed on five years of supervised release.

     According to the evidence at trial, Colbert and the victim, Robert L. Wright, 37, became embroiled in an argument on the morning of March 4, 2012, in front of Colbert’s house in the 3500 block of Pope Street SE, in the Penn-Branch neighborhood. The trouble began after Mr. Wright and a friend walked their dog on Colbert’s property.  Colbert became enraged and brandished a knife and a walking stick.

     The altercation moved up the street to the house where the dog was kept, located in the 3600 block of Highwood Drive.  During the course of the argument, Colbert lunged at Mr. Wright and cut him in the neck with his knife.  Mr. Wright then retrieved a nearby shovel, and the two continued their altercation in the middle of the street.  During the course of the fracas, Colbert tackled Mr. Wright to the pavement, causing him to lose possession of the shovel.  Colbert then stabbed Mr. Wright in the back, chest and abdomen resulting in his death. 

     In announcing the sentence, U.S. Attorney Machen commended those who worked on the case for the Metropolitan Police Department (MPD), including detectives, mobile crime technicians, and others.  He acknowledged the efforts of those who worked on the case for the U.S. Attorney’s Office, including Paralegal Specialists Fern Rhedrick, San Lane, Phil Aronson, Kwasi Fields and Sharon Newman, Litigation Support Services Specialists Ron Royal and Josh Ellen; Intelligence Analyst Lawrence Grasso, and Victim Advocate Tamara Ince.

     Finally, U.S. Attorney Machen commended the work of Assistant U.S. Attorneys Robert J. Feitel and Edward A. O’Connell, who prosecuted the case at trial.


Updated February 19, 2015