Family and friends of Latisha Frazier filled a D.C. court room on Feb. 11, many wearing T-shirts with photos of the victim and her daughter. Although they were prepared for an emotional preliminary hearing for the five people charged with Frazier’s slaying, they were spared another long day in court and a rehashing of the gory details of Frazier’s final hours.
Three of the five defendants waived their rights to a preliminary hearing and are expected in court again on March 4 for a status hearing. Defendants Brian Gaither, 23; Johnnie Sweets, 17; and Anneka Nelson, 16, have chosen to skip the preliminary hearing, a legal maneuver that indicates there is enough evidence against them to proceed to trial.
Cinthya Proctor, 18, and Laurence Hassan, 23, also charged with Frazier’s murder, did not request waivers and their preliminary hearings will be continued. Proctor was unable to appear in court because of health problems, and officials need more time to investigate Hassan’s role in the crime, according to defense lawyers.
Latoya Frazier, 23, was grateful the court hearing was brief. Being in the same room as the suspects charged with her sister’s murder is painful, she said.
“Just to see them, it kind of brought up the hurt all over again,” she said in an interview outside the courtroom.
Latoya helped organize an extensive search with family and friends when 18-year-old Latisha went missing on Aug. 2, the same day police believe she was killed. Frazier, known to family and friends as “Tish,” was kidnapped, beaten, gagged, covered with a sheet and choked to death before her body was thrown into a closet and partially dismembered, according to charging documents in the case.
The defendants had accused Frazier of stealing money from them and planned to “teach her a lesson,” according to charging documents.
“I hope [the defendants] never get out,” Latoya said. “I just hope that they pay for what they did.”
Gaither is charged with second degree murder. The other four suspects are charged with first degree murder and kidnapping. Authorities are still searching for Latisha’s remains.
A Crossland High School graduate and a fulltime employee at McDonald’s, Latisha was a dedicated mother to three-year-old daughter Diamond, according to relatives. Diamond is now in the care of Latisha’s and Latoya’s mother, Caroline Frazier, Latoya said.
Heather Somerville is a freelance reporter in Washington, DC. She holds a Master’s degree in journalism from Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism and recently completed a three-month investigation into national security and climate change, called Global Warning. Her email address is somerville.heather [at] gmail.com