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Justice News

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

Friday, October 30, 2015

District Man Sentenced to 40 Years in Prison For Killing Man in Northwest Washington

Defendant Got Gun and Shot Victim Following Earlier Altercation at Nightclub

     WASHINGTON – Erik Postell, 27, of Washington, D.C., was sentenced today to 40 years in prison for killing a man in 2013 in Northwest Washington, U.S. Attorney Channing D. Phillips announced.

     Postell was found guilty by a jury in July 2015 of first-degree murder while armed and three firearms offenses stemming from the slaying of Paul Danzo Tanoh. The verdict followed a trial in the Superior Court of the District of Columbia. Postell was sentenced by the Honorable Lynn Leibovitz. Following his prison term, he will be placed on five years of supervised release.

     According to the government’s evidence, on March 21, 2013, at about 2:45 a.m., Postell fatally shot Mr. Tanoh, 24, as Mr. Tanoh sat in the driver's seat of his car, which was stopped in the 1000 block of 17th Street NW.  The shooting followed a brief physical altercation between Postell and Mr. Tanoh that took place inside a nearby nightclub 15 minutes earlier.

     Following the confrontation at the nightclub, Postell retrieved a .45 caliber handgun from a parked car and tracked down Mr. Tanoh. He then stood alongside Mr. Tanoh's driver's side window and fired at him nine times. Postell fled in a vehicle driven by another man, Michael Smith.  Smith, 35, of Camp Springs, Md., previously pled guilty to multiple felonies for his role in the murder of Mr. Tanoh and is to be sentenced Nov. 20, 2015. Postell was taken into custody on Oct. 11, 2013, and had been held without bond ever since.

     In announcing the sentence, U.S. Attorney Phillips commended the work of the detectives, officers and others who investigated the case from the Metropolitan Police Department (MPD). He also expressed appreciation for the assistance provided by the U.S. Secret Service; the District of Columbia Department of Forensic Sciences; Bode Technologies; Assistant U.S. Attorney Kellen Dwyer of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Virginia; Trial Attorney Jessica N. Moran of the Department of Justice’s Tax Division, and Assistant U.S. Attorney Ellen Chubin Epstein of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia. In addition, he acknowledged the work of those who handled the murder case for the U.S. Attorney’s Office, including Paralegal Specialists Lynda Randolph, Donville Drummond, Sandra Lane, Alesha Matthews, and Kalisha Johnson-Clark; Litigation Technology Specialists Leif Hickling, Kimberly Smith, Thomas “Ron” Royal, Paul Howell, Aneela Bhatia, Anisha Bhatia, Claudia Gutierrez, Joshua Ellen, and Karen McColman; Intelligence Specialists Sharon Johnson, Zachary McMenamin, and William Hamann; Victim/Witness Advocate Marcia Rinker, and La June Thames, Katina Adams-Washington, and David Foster, all of the Victim/Witness Assistance Unit.

     Finally, he commended the work of Assistant U.S. Attorney Michael C. Liebman and former Assistant U.S. Attorney Philip A. Selden, who investigated and prosecuted the case.

Press Release Number: 
Updated February 4, 2016