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Justice News

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

Friday, December 13, 2013

Teenager Sentenced To 30-Year Prison Term In Slaying At Woodley Park Metro StationDefendant Is Among Six Sentenced Today To At Least 15 Years In Prison For Various Roles In Crime

     WASHINGTON – Chavez Myers, 18, was sentenced today to 30 years in prison for first-degree murder while armed in the slaying of 18-year-old Olijawon Griffin at the Woodley Park Metro station, announced U.S. Attorney Ronald C. Machen Jr., Cathy L. Lanier, Chief of the Metropolitan Police Department (MPD), and Ron Pavlik, Chief of the Metro Transit Police.

     Five co-defendants were also sentenced today, to prison terms ranging from 15 to 19 years.

     Myers, of District Heights, Md., pled guilty in September 2013 in the Superior Court of the District of Columbia. The plea, which was contingent upon the Court’s approval, called for the 30-year prison sentence for the crime. The Honorable Ronna L. Beck approved the plea this morning and sentenced Myers accordingly.

     Myers, who was 17 at the time of the murder, is among numerous defendants to plead guilty to charges in the murder and related crimes. The others include Muquan Cawthorne, 17, of Mount Ranier, Md.; Deon Jefferson, 18, of Landover, Md.; Gary Maye, 18, of Hyattsville, Md.; Immanuel Swann, 18, of Brentwood, Md., and Gary Whittaker, 20, of Hyattsville, Md. Cawthorne, Jefferson, Maye and Swann, like Myers, were under 18 at the time of the murder; the U.S. Attorney’s Office obtained their indictments after deciding to prosecute them as adults.

     Cawthorne was sentenced today to 17 years in prison for voluntary manslaughter while armed, armed robbery, and a firearms offense. Jefferson was sentenced to 16 years in prison for voluntary manslaughter while armed and armed robbery. Maye was sentenced to 19 years in prison for voluntary manslaughter while armed, armed robbery, and robbery. Swann was sentenced to 19 years in prison for voluntary manslaughter while armed and two counts of armed robbery. Whittaker was sentenced to 15 years in prison for voluntary manslaughter while armed, assault with a dangerous weapon, conspiracy, and a firearms offense.

     All of the defendants have been in custody since their arrests. Upon completion of their prison terms, each defendant will be placed on five years of supervised release.

     According to the government’s evidence, Myers and the other defendants were part of a group of 10 people who conspired on Nov. 16, 2012 and Nov. 17, 2012 to commit robberies in the District of Columbia. Plans called for robbing people of their iPhones and other items of value. The group took a Metro train on the night of Nov. 16, 2012, from the West Hyattsville, Md. station to the Gallery Place/Chinatown station in Northwest Washington. From there, they took another train to the Woodley Park Metro station to begin their crimes. Within a matter of hours, Mr. Griffin would become a victim of the group twice: once, during a robbery in the Adams Morgan area, and finally, the attack at the Metro Station that ended with his death.

     “Today justice is served on the group of teenagers who murdered Olijawon Griffin for having the audacity to stand up to them after they robbed him of his coat and brutally assaulted his best friend,” said U.S. Attorney Machen.  “Chavez Myers, who buried the knife in Mr. Griffin’s chest on a Metro Station platform, will serve 30 years behind bars.  Five other participants in this attack, none of whom struck the fatal blow, will each serve at least 15 years in prison. Today’s proceedings should open the eyes of other young people thinking about committing street robberies to the deadly consequences and lengthy prison sentences that can easily result.”

     “A young man lost his life, and now the young men who are responsible for that crime must face the consequences of their actions,” said Police Chief Lanier. “The Metropolitan Police Department and our law enforcement partners continue to demonstrate that criminals will be held accountable.”

     “I want to commend the work and cooperation of the Metro Transit and Metropolitan Police Departments as well as the D.C. Attorney General and U.S. Attorney’s Office’ in this year-long effort to arrest and prosecute those responsible for the events of Nov. 16 and 17, 2012,” said Metro Transit Police Chief Pavlik. “We continue to send a clear message to those who wish to threaten or bring harm to Metro customers that such activity will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.”

     According to the government’s evidence, the group targeted Mr. Griffin shortly after midnight, early Nov. 17, 2012, attacking him near a gas station in the 1800 block of Adams Mill Road NW. Mr. Griffin was robbed of his Helly Hansen coat, hat, and iPhone. The assailants then walked back toward the Woodley Park Metro station, intending to take a train back to West Hyattsville.

     Mr. Griffin and his two companions arrived at the Metro station shortly after the assailants. They approached the assailants in an attempt to get Mr. Griffin’s property back. According to the government’s evidence, the various assailants repeatedly punched, kicked and stomped one of Mr. Griffin’s companions while he was lying prone and defenseless on the floor of the station platform. Once this friend rose to his feet, the group again took him to the ground and repeatedly punched, kicked and stomped him.

     Shortly after the attack on the friend ended, Myers went up to the mezzanine level of the station, where the kiosk and fare machines are located. Jefferson, Maye, Whittaker and Swann were among those who also went to the mezzanine level. Mr. Griffin had been attempting to draw the defendants to that level in an effort to get them away from his injured friend. As the confrontation continued, Myers came up from behind Mr. Griffin and stabbed Mr. Griffin, who was unarmed, once in the heart. Mr. Griffin died a short time later.

     In announcing the sentences, U.S. Attorney Machen, Chief Lanier and Chief Pavlik commended the work of those who investigated the case from the Metropolitan Police Department and the Metro Transit Police Department. They also expressed appreciation to those who worked on the case from the District of Columbia Office of the Attorney General, including Deputy Attorney General Andrew Fois; Jennifer White, Chief of the Juvenile Section; Barbara Chesser and Linda Monroe, Assistant Chiefs of the Juvenile Section; Assistant Attorney General Marybeth Manfreda, and former Assistant Attorney General Anthony Crispino. The District of Columbia Office of the Attorney General handled the part of this case that involved charges against some of the juveniles who were apprehended after the attack.

     U.S. Attorney Machen, Chief Lanier and Chief Pavlik also acknowledged the efforts of those who provided assistance from the U.S. Attorney’s Office, including Paralegal Specialists Alesha Matthews, Kwasi Fields, and Ethel Noble; Criminal Investigator John Marsh; Litigation Technology Specialists Leif Hickling, Will Henderson, and Paul Howell; Victim/Witness Advocate Jennifer Clark, and former interns Ryan Lipes, Flynn Burke, and Lauren Sparks. 

     Finally, they thanked Assistant U.S. Attorneys Justin Dillon, Kathleen A. Connolly, and Kevin F. Flynn, who investigated and prosecuted the case.


Updated February 19, 2015