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Justice News

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

Friday, February 21, 2014

Maryland Man Sentenced To 49 Years In Prison For First-Degree Murder While Armed In 2012 Shooting In Southeast Washington-Victim And Defendant Were Close Family Friends-

     WASHINGTON – Grant Johnson, 39, of Bladensburg, Md., was sentenced today to 49 years in prison on charges of first-degree premeditated murder while armed and other offenses for the May 2012 slaying of a Maryland man, U.S. Attorney Ronald C. Machen Jr. announced.

     Johnson was found guilty by a jury in October 2013, following a trial in the Superior Court of the District of Columbia.  In addition to the first-degree murder charge, the jury found Johnson guilty of second-degree murder while armed, armed robbery, and several firearms offenses.  Johnson was sentenced by the Honorable Herbert B. Dixon, Jr. Upon completion of his prison term, Johnson will be placed on five years of supervised release.

     According to the government’s evidence, the victim, Ricardo Lancaster, 32, drove his company truck to the 800 block of Burns Street SE on May 30, 2012.  He arrived at 11:22 p.m. with several hundred dollars to purchase a quantity of marijuana from Johnson.  Johnson and Mr. Lancaster were old family friends, having grown up together in the 700 block of Adrian Street SE.  Since childhood, Johnson was widely known as the best friend of Mr. Lancaster’s brother. 

     Sitting in the passenger seat of Mr. Lancaster’s company truck, Johnson shot Mr. Lancaster once in the right cheek at close range.  He then went to the driver’s side of the vehicle, where Mr. Lancaster was still seated, and through the open window, shot him, again at close range, in the neck.  Mr. Lancaster was found dead the next morning, still seated in the driver’s seat of his company vehicle on Burns Street.  His personal cell phone was missing and he had $3 on his person.  No marijuana was in the car.  Hours after the murder, Johnson provided his girlfriend with several hundred dollars in cash for his share of the rent. 

     When asked by his best friend – Mr. Lancaster’s brother – whether he had seen or spoken to Mr. Lancaster prior to the murder, Johnson lied, claiming that he had not.  The government’s evidence included cell phone records that showed that Mr. Lancaster and Johnson were in repeated contact the night of the murder, and Johnson’s DNA was found on a Doritos bag discarded on the passenger side floor of Mr. Lancaster’s company vehicle.    

     In announcing the sentence, U.S. Attorney Machen praised the work of the detectives, officers, and crime scene technicians who investigated the case for the Metropolitan Police Department.  He also expressed appreciation to the FBI’s Cellular Analysis Survey Team.  He commended the efforts of those who worked on the case from the U.S. Attorney’s Office, including Paralegal Specialists Marian Russell, Sandra Lane, Kendra Johnson, and Fern Rhedrick; Lead Paralegal Specialist Sharon Newman; Victim/Witness Advocates Marcia Rinker and Jennifer Clark; Victim Witness Security Specialist Katina Adams-Washington; Former Intelligence Specialist Lawrence Grasso and Intelligence Specialist Zachary McMenamin, and Litigation Technology Specialist Thomas “Ron” Royal.  Finally, he recognized the work of Assistant U.S. Attorneys Kimberley Nielsen and Robert Feitel, who investigated the case and prosecuted the case at trial.


Updated February 19, 2015