Baltimore, Maryland – A federal jury convicted Janice Martina Mason, age 29, of Melbourne Florida, today of voluntary manslaughter for running over a woman on the Baltimore-Washington (“BW”) Parkway and leaving her to die. The jury was unable to reach a verdict on a second degree murder charge.
The guilty verdict was announced by Erek L. Barron, United States Attorney for the District of Maryland; Special Agent in Charge Wayne Jacobs of the Federal Bureau of Investigation - Washington Field Office Criminal Division; and Chief Jessica M. E. Taylor of the U.S. Park Police (“USPP”).
According to the evidence presented at her eight-day trial, in the early morning hours of November 24, 2021, USPP officers responded to a citizen report for a body on the side of the BW Parkway northbound, north of Route 197, an area within the territorial jurisdiction of the United States. Officers found the victim lying face down on the shoulder of the road. Medics arrived on the scene and pronounced the victim dead. The evidence showed that that there were no skid marks or vehicle parts located at the scene. A cellphone belonging to the victim was found on the grass and another cellphone with a broken screen was found in the roadway and was later determined to belong to Mason.
There was testimony that later on November 24, 2021, Mason contacted the USPP Greenbelt Station and advised that she’d lost her phone on the BW Parkway after it had been thrown out of her vehicle, and she tracked the location to USPP Criminal Investigations. Mason then agreed to come to the station for an interview. Witnesses testified that Mason advised the USPP detective that she was visiting from Florida and was staying at her mother’s house in Washington, D.C. Mason falsely told the detective that she was driving the victim and another woman home to Laurel, Maryland, in a black Nissan vehicle when the other woman started hitting Mason. Mason said she pulled over to the side of the highway and ordered them out of the car and they walked away. The detective showed her the phone found in the roadway of the BW Parkway and she identified it as her phone. She also identified a photo of the victim as one of the people she was driving home.
Evidence was presented that on November 25, 2021, a USPP detective went to Mason’s mother’s home, spoke with Mason and obtained her written consent to seize and search the contents of her phone, which had been returned to her, and to tow and examine a black Nissan vehicle parked behind the residence, which Mason confirmed was the vehicle she’d used to drive her friends home. While at the residence, the USPP detective noticed a black Ford Expedition parked down the street with the tag “JANICE.” Investigators subsequently determined that Mason had been driving the Ford Expedition on November 24th and not the Nissan vehicle. They went back to Mason’s mother’s residence to tow the Ford Expedition, which was found to have visible damage to the hood, front grille, and the passenger side running board.
As detailed in trial testimony, on November 26, 2021, Mason had a second voluntary interview with USPP investigators. She acknowledged that the was driving the black Ford Expedition on the morning of November 24th and advised investigators that it was just Mason and the victim in the car that day. The Ford Expedition was processed and searched by the FBI’s Evidence Response Team. A swab from the indented hood area was collected and sent to the FBI Laboratory for DNA analysis and concluded that it was DNA from the victim. The FBI Laboratory examined impressions that were collected from the undercarriage of the Ford Expedition, and determined that one corresponded in pattern and size with the victim’s shoe.
The jury found that Mason intentionally killed the victim in the heat of passion.
Mason faces a maximum sentence of 15 years in federal prison for voluntary manslaughter. Chief U.S. District Judge James K. Bredar has scheduled sentencing for August 25, 2023, at 10:00 a.m.
U.S. Attorney Erek L. Barron commended the USPP and the FBI for their work in the investigation. Mr. Barron also thanked Assistant United States Attorneys Kim Y. Oldham and Ari Evans, who are prosecuting the case. Mr. Barron also recognized the assistance of Paralegal Specialist Kristy Penny.
For more information on the Maryland U.S. Attorney’s Office, its priorities, and resources available to help the community, please visit https://www.justice.gov/usao-md and https://www.justice.gov/usao-md/community-outreach.
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