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Press Release

Brooklyn Man Sentenced To More Than 20 Years In Prison For Murder Committed In Broad Daylight In January 2016

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Southern District of New York

Joon H. Kim, the Acting United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, Ashan M. Benedict, the Special Agent in Charge of the New York Field Office of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (“ATF”), and James P. O’Neill, Commissioner of the Police Department for the City of New York (“NYPD”), announced that RAYSHAWN DEMOSTHENE, a/k/a “Smooth,” was sentenced today in Manhattan federal court to a prison term of 244 months for the murder of Michael Morris in Brooklyn, New York, on January 11, 2016. DEMOSTHENE pled guilty before U.S. Magistrate Judge Barbara C. Moses on December 29, 2016, to murdering Morris. DEMOSTHENE was sentenced today by U.S. District Judge P. Kevin Castel.


Acting Manhattan U.S. Attorney Joon H. Kim stated: “In broad daylight, on a residential street in Brooklyn, Rayshawn Demosthene executed Michael Morris. Demosthene’s cold-blooded murder and utter disregard for a fellow human life was driven by greed, a desire to steal drug money. Thanks to the hard work and dedication of the SPARTA Joint Robbery Task Force of the NYPD and the ATF, Demosthene has been brought to justice and will serve a lengthy sentence for his crime.”


ATF Special Agent-in-Charge Ashan M. Benedict stated: “The defendant and his co-conspirators committed a cold-blooded, ambush murder of the victim in order to steal money the victim intended to use to purchase narcotics. In the process, they turned the streets into a shooting gallery, endangering the lives of any number of innocent bystanders. This investigation highlights the ever-present danger of violence that goes along with the narcotics trade, and how invariably that violence plays out on the streets. I would like to extend my gratitude to the ATF Special Agents and NYPD Detectives assigned to the ATF SPARTA Joint Robbery Task Force, and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for their outstanding work in ensuring that this killer faced the justice he so overwhelmingly deserved.”


NYPD Commissioner James P. O’Neill stated: “The individual involved in this case not only participated in the illegal drug trade but compounded his actions by engaging in the wanton murder of another human being for nothing more than his own greed. Murder, no matter what the circumstances, can never be tolerated in a civilized society.”


According to the Indictment and other documents filed in the case, as well as statements made during the plea and sentencing proceedings:


On the morning of January 11, 2016, RAYSHAWN DEMOSTHENE walked along a residential street in Brooklyn toward the car in which Michael Morris was sitting and opened fire. Morris, who was a resident of Virginia, had traveled to Brooklyn that day in the belief that he would purchase drugs in exchange for approximately $30,000 in cash. But the supposed drug transaction was a ruse. Unbeknownst to Morris, DEMOSTHENE and his co-conspirators had agreed beforehand to murder Morris and take his money. After Morris arrived in Brooklyn, DEMOSTHENE carried out the homicide by shooting Morris in the head and killing him.

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In addition to his prison term, DEMOSTHENE, 24, of Brooklyn, New York, was also sentenced to five years of supervised release.

Mr. Kim praised the investigative work of the NYPD and the ATF, and in particular the Strategic Patterned Armed Robbery Technical Apprehension (“SPARTA”) Task Force, which is composed of agents and officers of the ATF and the NYPD.

This case is being handled by the Office’s Violent and Organized Crime Unit. Assistant United States Attorneys Scott A. Hartman and David Zhou are in charge of the prosecution.

Updated June 20, 2017

Violent Crime
Press Release Number: 17-182