Monday, December 19, 2011

District Man Sentenced to 64 ½-Year Prison Term for Killing a Man and Wounding a Child in Home Invasion

Second Defendant Earlier Got 58-Year Prison Term for Murder; Third Defendant Sentenced to Seven Years for Obstructing Justice, Perjury

WASHINGTON—Allen Butler, 33, was sentenced today to a prison term of 64 ½ years for his role in a home invasion in December 2008 in which a man was killed and a 5-year-old boy was wounded, U.S. Attorney Ronald C. Machen Jr. announced.

Butler and a co-defendant, Steven Lewis 30, were convicted by a jury in June 2011 of second-degree murder while armed, assault with intent to kill while armed, and other charges. A third defendant, Tawanda Sheffield, 34, was convicted by the same jury of two counts of obstruction of justice and one count of perjury as a result of her having lied to police and a grand jury in an effort to fabricate an alibi for Butler’s whereabouts at the time of the home invasion.

The verdicts followed a trial in the Superior Court of the District of Columbia. The Honorable William M. Jackson sentenced Butler today. In September, Judge Jackson sentenced Lewis to 58 years in prison and Sheffield to a seven-year prison term. All three defendants are from Washington, D.C.

According to the government’s evidence, on December 11, 2008, at about 8:10 a.m., a uniformed Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) officer assigned to the Third Police District was flagged down by a citizen who stated that someone had been shot inside a residence in the 600 block of Kenyon Street NW. The officer went to that location and found Franklin Johnson, 37, a part-time resident of the house, lying dead on the floor, with multiple gunshot wounds. A five year-old child had also sustained a gunshot wound to the abdomen but ultimately survived.

Shortly thereafter it was revealed that two masked, armed men dressed in black had stormed the house and, upon encountering resistance from Johnson and a female friend, fired multiple rounds into Johnson with both guns. In the process, they shot the 5-year-old victim. One of the home invaders was also shot by the other in the melee.

The police investigation soon revealed that the getaway vehicle was a burgundy van with which both defendants were connected. Further links were established when the police followed up on a false stolen vehicle report for the burgundy van, a report that the van had been set ablaze behind Lewis’s residence, another report that falsely claimed that the van had been stolen by unidentified subjects, and a report that Butler had been admitted to a hospital suffering from the gunshot wound that was later shown to have been received in the course of the home invasion.

At trial, the government was able to build its case against Butler and Lewis by marshaling the defendants’ own admissions to police and others, cell phone evidence demonstrating their presence at various locations relevant to the home invasion and its aftermath, and DNA evidence proving that during the struggle inside the Kenyon Street house, the decedent’s blood had been left on Butler’s pants.

“A 64-year prison sentence is a fitting punishment for this criminal’s role in a terrifying home invasion that left one man dead and a five-year-old boy grievously wounded,” said U.S. Attorney Machen. “Not even the lies of a friend who tried to concoct a false alibi for this killer allowed him to escape the consequences of his masked attack. This defendant will spend more than six decades in prison and another gunman will spend nearly as much time behind bars. The defendant’s friend will herself spend seven years in jail for trying to cover up his crime.”

In announcing the sentences, U.S. Attorney Machen commended the efforts of MPD Detectives Jed Worrell and Jacqueline Middleton—the lead investigators in the case—as well as assisting Detectives Randal Parker, Brian Wise, Thomas Braxton, William Xantan, Hosan Nasr and Mike Pepperman; MPD Sergeant Dan Wagner; MPD Mobile Crime Laboratory Officers James Holder, John Holder, George Klein, Brenda Floyd, Jay Gregory, Keith Slaughter and Petheria McIver; MPD Officers Paris White and Oscar Pedrozo; Detective David Gurry and Corporal Ja’Net Pettus-Golston, of the Prince George’s County Police Department; MPD Forensic Laboratory analysts Nicole Kaye and Nikia Coomber; Robert Freese, a contract firearms expert employed by MPD’s Firearms Examination Unit; the special agent who worked on the case from the FBI, and Dr. Marie L. Pierre-Louis, Chief Medical Examiner for the District of Columbia.

U.S. Attorney Machen also acknowledged the efforts of those who worked on the case from the U.S. Attorney’s Office, including victim advocate Marcey Rinker; paralegals Philip Aronson, Debra Smith and Delissa Rivers; the entire Litigation Support Unit; Durand Odom of the Criminal Investigation Unit, and Joe Calavrese, Kimberly Smith, Paul Howell, Leif Hickling, William Henderson, and Thomas Royal, all of the Litigation Technology Section, who labored exhaustively to prepare hundreds of exhibits used by the government at trial.

Finally, U.S. Attorney Machen praised the work of Assistant U.S. Attorneys Kevin Flynn and Katherine Sawyer, who tried the case, as well as Assistant United States Attorney Lynn Haaland, who assisted in the grand jury investigation.

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