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Justice News

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

Thursday, July 2, 2015

Maryland Man Pleads Guilty to Assault Charges

           WASHINGTON – William Nelson, 52, of Morningside, Md., pled guilty today to charges of felony assault and misdemeanor assault for attacking two people after an argument on a Metro train, announced Acting U.S. Attorney Vincent H. Cohen, Jr. and Ron Pavlik, Chief of the Metro Transit Police.

            Nelson entered the guilty plea in the Superior Court of the District of Columbia. The Honorable Yvonne M. Williams scheduled sentencing for Sept. 8, 2015. Nelson faces a statutory maximum of three years in prison for felony assault and up to 180 days of incarceration for misdemeanor assault, as well as potential financial penalties.

            “This brutal beating was a shocking attack on two innocent people who were simply using Metro to travel throughout the city,” said Acting U.S. Attorney Cohen.  “This level of outrageous violence is entirely unacceptable and will not be tolerated.”

            “On behalf of all Metro riders, I want to extend our thanks to the U.S. Attorney's Office for their support in this case that led to today's plea,” said Chief Pavlik. “I also want to commend the responding Transit officers and detectives who helped to ensure that justice was served today. Any assault is unsettling, but when it involves juvenile victims and when it occurs within the confined space of a railcar, that makes the crime all the more disturbing.”

            According to a factual proffer presented at today’s plea hearing, on June 7, 2015, at about 1 a.m., Nelson was seated in front of two juveniles, 16 and 17, on a Metro train headed toward the Anacostia station of the Green Line. Nelson appeared to be asleep. The juveniles placed their feet on a window partition between their seat and Nelson’s seat, and he woke up. Nelson then stated, “Can you stop kicking the glass before I smack one of y’all?” A verbal argument ensued between Nelson and one of the juveniles, and both juveniles moved away from Nelson to another part of the train. Nelson, however, followed and continued arguing. Then he turned, walked toward the second juvenile, and punched him in the face.

            As the juveniles moved through the train to get into a different car, a 46-year-old man approached Nelson and told him that he shouldn’t be acting that way. Nelson then confronted the man and punched him in the face multiple times, causing him to fall into a seat on the train.

            As the man was still in the seat, Nelson stood over him and continued to punch him repeatedly in the face, even though the man’s hands were at his sides. After Nelson walked away, the man got up and exchanged words with him. Nelson then walked back over to the man, raised his hands, in a fighting stance, and punched him again. The man was knocked to the floor, and began bleeding from his face.

            Both the man and the juvenile identified Nelson as the individual that who assaulted them. As a result of the altercation, the man sustained a fractured jaw and cheekbone and needed several stitches for lacerations to his lips. Additionally, he was informed by doctors that he needed to undergo surgery and have a plate inserted. The felony charge involves his attack.

            In announcing the plea, Acting U.S. Attorney Cohen and Chief Pavlik commended the work of those who investigated the case from the Metro Transit Police. Finally, they acknowledged the efforts of those who worked on the case from the U.S. Attorney’s Office, including Assistant U.S. Attorney Lindsey Merikas, who investigated and prosecuted the case.

Press Release Number: 
Updated July 2, 2015