Brian Gaither, Johnnie Sweet Indicted on First Degree Murder in Death of Latisha Frazier

Brian Gaither and Johnnie Sweet have been indicted on charges related to the death of 18-year-old Latisha Frazier, the US Attorney’s Office announced this afternoon.

Gaither, 23, and Sweet, 18, are due in court tomorrow.

The indictment charges each man with first degree felony murder, first degree premeditated murder, and “aggravating circumstances.” Those circumstances are that Frazier’s death was “especially heinous, atrocious, and cruel” and that it was also “committed during the course of a kidnapping.”

Authorities believe Frazier was the victim of a brutal attack by six people. According to court documents, the 18-year-old was beaten, stomped, bound, taped, gagged, prodded and choked. Her head was covered with a sheet. Tossed into a closet, she finally died. Her body was thrown into a dumpster and hasn’t been found, though it’s believed to be in a landfill.

Court documents state that the group of young people was upset because they believed Frazier had stolen $900 from one of them.

In a three week period last winter, Gaither, Sweet, Aneka Nelson, Cinthya Proctor, Laurence Hassan, and Lanee Bell were arrested in connection with Frazier’s disappearance.

Hassan and Proctor have each pleaded guilty to second-degree murder in connection with the case.

Bell, though MPD announced that she was arrested on suspicion of felony murder, has not been charged with murder. Court records indicate that she was charged with kidnapping in January and pleaded innocent. They also show that she is next due in court Nov. 18.

Nelson, according to public records, is in custody and awaiting an indictment from the Grand Jury. Court records show that a status hearing on Nov. 18 was set in July for her case.

Last month a source told Homicide Watch that the only open cases in connection with Frazier’s death were the cases against Gaither and Sweet.

A copy of the indictment and a press release from the US Attorney’s office is below.

Two Men Indicted in Kidnapping, Murder,and Dismemberment of 18-Year-Old Latisha Frazier-If Convicted, Men Could Face Life Prison Terms With No Possibility of Release -

WASHINGTON - Two men were indicted today on charges of first degree felony murder, first degree premeditated murder, and other offenses stemming from the brutal slaying last year of 18-year-old Latisha Frazier, U.S. Attorney Ronald C. Machen Jr. announced.

Brian Gaither, 23, and Johnnie Sweet, 17, both of Washington, D.C., were indicted by a grand jury in the Superior Court for the District of Columbia. In addition to the murder charges, the grand jury indicted Gaither and Sweet on charges of kidnapping and tampering with physical evidence. Gaither is also charged with obstruction of justice for his subsequent attempts to suborn perjury on his behalf at trial

The defendants, who have been in custody since their arrests in January 2011, are to be arraigned Thursday, November 3, 2011, before the Honorable William M. Jackson.

The charges stem from the kidnapping and murder of Ms. Frazier, which took place in Southeast Washington in August 2010, as well as the defendants’ subsequent attempts to dismember and dispose of the victim’s body in a nearby dumpster. Ms. Frazier was reported missing, and for months, her disappearance was unsolved. Her body has yet to be recovered, and the exact whereabouts are unknown. A total of five people have been arrested in the case.

In addition to the various substantive crimes specified in the indictment, the indictment charges the defendants with “aggravating circumstances.” Specifically, the indictment charges that the murder was “especially heinous, atrocious, and cruel” and that it was also “committed during the course of a kidnapping.” If these aggravating circumstances are eventually found by a jury at trial, the defendants could face a maximum sentence of life imprisonment without possibility of release.

The case remains under investigation.

An indictment is merely an allegation that defendants have committed a violation of criminal law and is not evidence of guilt. Every defendant is presumed innocent until, and unless, proven guilty in a court of law.

In announcing the indictments, U.S. Attorney Machen praised the extraordinary efforts of the Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) in this investigation and took note of the hard work performed by Detectives Jeffrey Owens, Oliver Garvey, Darryl Richmond, Mitch Credle, Anthony Brigidini, Kenneth Williams, Susan Blue and Jeff Mayberry of the Major Case/Cold Case Squad, and Detectives Jackie Middleton and Dan Lewis of the Seventh District.

In addition, U.S. Attorney Machen expressed appreciation for the efforts of those who handled the case for the U.S. Attorney’s Office, including Larry Grasso of the Criminal Intelligence Unit, paralegal specialists Kwasi Fields, and Victim/Witness Advocate Marcia Rinker. Finally, he praised Assistant U.S. Attorney Christopher R. Kavanaugh, who is prosecuting the case.

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