Zachary Sims, Acquitted of Murder, Receives 30-Month Sentence on Weapons Charges

A DC man acquitted of murder and assault charges was sentenced today to 30 months in prison on charges that he did have a weapon the night a DC teen was killed, even though he didn’t fire a shot.

Zachary Sims, 19, was found innocent in May of the most serious charges against him, after a DC jury found that there was not sufficient evidence to believe that Sims killed 16-year-old Jamal Bell following a graduation party in June 2010.

Sims had been charged with killing Bell and wounding two others when he fired a gun into a crowd of young people in front of him as they left a party on Georgia Avenue. Sims’s defense attorney told jurors that the teen was innocent, that someone else entirely was responsible for the murder and assaults.

Jurors found Sims innocent of seven of the nine charges, including first-degree murder and assault with intent to kill. He was found guilty of two charges: possession of an unregistered firearm and carrying a pistol without a license.

According to sentencing guidelines for those crimes, Sims could have expected to be sentenced to 10 to 28 months.

Calling the circumstances of the charges “horrible,” Judge William Jackson sentenced him to 30 months, a a rare upward departure from the guidelines.

On the night this happened, [Sims] had a gun, was on probation at the time, and subsequently was picked up on another charge,” Jackson said.

Sims will receive credit for the 22 months he has served.

At sentencing he said he looked forward to “moving on.”

I look on this as a lesson,” Sims said. “I’m going to show everyone I’m better from two years sitting there. I’m looking forward to moving on and accomplishing my goals.”

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