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Justice News

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

Friday, July 8, 2016

Maryland Man Sentenced to 39 Years in Prison For Stabbing Three People at Home in the Middle of the Night

Defendant Attacked Ex-Girlfriend, Her New Boyfriend, and Her Grandmother

            WASHINGTON – Ernest Johnson, 21, formerly of Baltimore, Md., was sentenced today to a 39-year prison term for stabbing his ex-girlfriend and two others in her apartment in Northeast Washington, U.S. Attorney Channing D. Phillips announced.

            Johnson pled guilty in October 2015, in the Superior Court of the District of Columbia, to three counts of assault with intent to kill while armed. The plea, which was contingent upon the Court’s approval, called for a sentence in the range of 35 to 40 years in prison. The Honorable Milton C. Lee accepted the plea today and sentenced Johnson accordingly. Following completion of his prison term, Johnson will be placed on five years of supervised release.

            According to the government’s evidence, Johnson was previously in a romantic relationship with one of the victims, a 24-year-old woman. On the date of the attack, Aug. 15, 2015, they were no longer in a romantic relationship. At that time, Johnson’s ex-girlfriend was in a romantic relationship with another man. The ex-girlfriend was living with her 75-year-old grandmother in an apartment in Northeast Washington.

            On Aug. 15, 2015, at approximately 4:30 a.m., Johnson entered the ex-girlfriend’s apartment through the balcony door. First, he went into the grandmother’s bedroom and began to strangle her, causing her to lose consciousness. He also stabbed her numerous times in the back, head, and neck. Johnson then entered the second bedroom, where his ex-girlfriend and her new boyfriend were asleep. He locked the door behind him. Johnson then stabbed his ex-girlfriend approximately 28 times in back, arm, neck, chest, hand, and other parts of her body. He also stabbed the new boyfriend several times in the head, and the knife went through his skull.

            Two witnesses were asleep in the living room of the apartment. One heard the screaming and broke into the locked bedroom, picked up a vacuum cleaner, and hit Johnson with it to stop the attacks against his ex-girlfriend and the boyfriend. The second witness also came into the room to assist.  Johnson then left the apartment, fleeing the scene.

            Two knives were recovered inside the apartment.

            All three victims were transported to the hospital by ambulance. The grandmother remained at the hospital for approximately nine days. Doctors believed that she may have had a laceration to the inside of her throat, and so she was not permitted to eat food or liquid through her mouth for approximately one week. The man was at the hospital for two days and was released. Several days thereafter, however, he began to have seizures and was readmitted for approximately four days. Since this incident, he has had memory issues and headaches. Finally, Johnson’s ex-girlfriend was admitted to the hospital for almost two months. She has severe spinal cord damage from the stabbing that initially left her paralyzed. Through extensive physical therapy, she has regained some motor skills, but remains significantly impaired and frequently confined to a wheelchair.

            Johnson was apprehended in Baltimore shortly after the attack. He has been in custody ever since. In a custodial interview after his arrest, he admitted to the stabbings.

            In announcing the sentence, U.S. Attorney Phillips commended the work of the officers and detectives who investigated the case for the Metropolitan Police Department and U.S. Marshals Service. He also commended the efforts of those who worked on the case from the U.S. Attorney’s Office, including Paralegal Specialist Joyce Arthur, former Paralegal Specialist Erica Vample, and Victim/Witness Advocate Meshall Thomas. Finally, he expressed appreciation for the work of Assistant U.S. Attorney Elana Suttenberg, who investigated and prosecuted the case.

Violent Crime
Press Release Number: 
Updated July 8, 2016