Raymond Roseboro Gets 40 Years in Prince Okorie Murder, Maintains Innocence

Judge Russell Canan sentenced Raymond Roseboro to 40 years in prison Wednesday for the 2010 murder of 16-year-old Prince Okorie.

The sentence means Roseboro, 23, will spend most of his life in prison.

I didn’t kill him,” Roseboro said. “I didn’t pull the trigger. I’m innocent.”

Okorie’s mother described Prince as a churchgoer who abstained from smoking, alcohol and sex to be true to his faith.

Roseboro, I forgive you from the bottom of my heart, but I will never forget you,” she said in court. “My grandchildren are not here, because they are scared what would happen to them when he gets out. Your Honor, please don’t let him ever see the street. My grandchild is counting on you.”

A jury convicted Roseboro of first-degree murder and related weapons offenses in connection with the case in February; two previous trials resulted in hung juries. At sentencing Wednesday, Roseboro maintained his innocence.

Roseboro’s defense attorney, James Rudasill Jr., said Roseboro plans to appeal the jury’s verdict. Rudasill said that Roseboro believes that prosecutors had cell phone tower information that would exonerate him of Okorie’s murder.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Stephen Gripkey said he had provided Rudasill with all necessary evidence before the trial. Rudasill also could have obtained cell phone data directly from the phone company, Gripkey said.

Still, the two earlier hung juries “suggest that there’s a quantum residual of doubt in this case,” Rudasill said.

At trial, two witnesses testified that on Nov. 30, 2010, Roseboro was part of a group who were walking in the 800 block of Delafield Place Northwest when Roseboro suddenly pulled a gun and shot Okorie. Roseboro had asked Okorie to walk with him to a nearby store, and two others joined, the witnesses testified.

Roseboro, though, maintains that he was at home the afternoon of the murder, preparing to meet with a career counselor.

Roseboro’s mother, Raylette, testified at trial that Roseboro never left her sight from the time he arrived home from school at 4 p.m. until the career counselor left around 6 p.m. Police place the time of Okorie’s murder between 4 and 4:30 p.m. The first 911 call arrived at 4:25 p.m.

Raylette Roseboro addressed the court Wednesday.

I’m sorry to the Okorie family for their loss, but my son is not a monster,” Raylette Roseboro said. “I told the truth. My son was at home.”

At the third trial, prosecutors used Roseboro’s former girlfriend to poke holes in his alibi. She testified Roseboro dropped her off on his porch after school and didn’t return home until 15 minutes before the career counselor arrived.

Phone records introduced at trial show that Roseboro missed several calls from his then-girlfriend around the time of the murder. Roseboro, though, told detectives that he was home “snuggling with her on the couch.”

The phone data “completely rebutted” Roseboro’s claims, Gripkey said.

Although Judge Canan didn’t allow prosecutors to introduce evidence of a motive at trial, prosecutors think they know why Roseboro wanted to kill Okorie.

About 11 days before Okorie’s death, during a preliminary hearing for Eric Foreman, two defense attorneys introduced themselves in open court and said they represented Okorie. The attorneys also said Okorie was a potential witness against Foreman — who was convicted last year of first-degree murder for shooting and killing Catholic University of American graduate student Neil Godleski in 2010.

Prosecutors think Roseboro killed Okorie to keep him from “snitching” on Foreman, his friend, Gripkey said.

Judge Canan said that even though the evidence of motive was insufficient, “the government may very well be right.” And even without that evidence, it was a “senseless and cowardly killing,” Canan said.

Okorie “was effectively lured to his death by Mr. Roseboro,” Canan said.

Several of Okorie’s friends from church attended the hearing Wednesday. They described him as sweet, quiet and respectful, with a lot of potential.

The community “lost a very bright light” when Okorie died, Canan said. He said Okorie “appears to be a 16-year-old who had a lot of potential.”

According to a church newsletter, Okorie’s sister, Beckie Okorie, gave birth late last year to a baby boy. His name? Prince Okorie.

A press release from the U.S. Attorney’s office is below.

District Man Sentenced to 40 Years in Prison For Murdering 16-Year-Old in Northwest Washington - Victim, a Student at Roosevelt High School, Was Walking With the Defendant
And Friends When the Defendant Suddenly Shot and Killed Him

WASHINGTON – Raymond Roseboro, 23, of Washington, D.C., was sentenced today to 40 years in prison for first-degree premeditated murder while armed and related weapons charges in the slaying of a 16-year-old boy, U.S. Attorney Ronald C. Machen Jr. announced.

Roseboro was found guilty by a jury in February 2013, following a trial in the Superior Court of the District of Columbia. Two previous trials, in March and September of 2012, had resulted in hung juries. During the trial this year, the government presented additional evidence.

In sentencing Roseboro, the Honorable Russell F. Canan described the murder as a “senseless and cowardly killing” in which the defendant essentially “lured” the victim, Prince Okorie, to his death. The judge also ordered that, upon completion of his prison term, Roseboro will be placed on five years of supervised release.

According to the government’s evidence presented at trial, the homicide occurred just before 4:25 p.m. on Nov. 30, 2010, near the intersection of Delafield Place and 8th Street NW, near the Sherman Circle area. Mr. Okorie was a student at Roosevelt Senior High School, along with the defendant and other witnesses.

Sometime after school let out at 3:15 p.m., Mr. Okorie and other teenagers were standing on a nearby neighborhood porch when Roseboro and Roseboro’s girlfriend walked by, heading towards the direction of the defendant’s nearby home. Mr. Okorie and some of his friends then left that porch and headed toward another home near the intersection of 7th and Emerson Streets NW, which was a frequent hangout among teenagers.

Soon thereafter, Roseboro appeared and asked Mr. Okorie to walk to the store with him. Two of Mr. Okorie’s friends joined them. As the group of four began walking to a nearby store, one of them had a quick conversation with a parent before rejoining the group along their walk. That parent recognized the defendant’s face as being among the young men who were walking with Mr. Okorie, and later selected Roseboro from a photo array.

The group continued walking along. There were no signs of animosity or tension, and Roseboro revealed only a calm exterior. Suddenly, just as the group had turned onto Delafield Place, shots rang out. One of Mr. Okorie’s friends in the group heard the shots and saw the victim falling; this friend ran off, his ears ringing. A second of Mr. Okorie’s friends, whose ears were also ringing and who had been distracted at seeing an adult across the street doing something with trash, heard a gunshot and looked to see Mr. Okorie lying on the ground. When that second friend looked up, he saw the defendant standing near Mr. Okorie with a gun in his hand and a mean “mug” on his face. The second friend then ran away, north on 8th Street, and heard additional shots as he ran from the scene.

Meanwhile, the adult across the street looked over at some point after the first shot and saw the victim lying on the ground and the shooter standing over him, firing at the victim with a gun in his hand. The adult was not able to recognize or identify the shooter, but did notice that the gunman had a hairstyle that consisted of short twists or dreads, and that the shooter ran into an alley that pointed in a southeasterly direction. The adult was also certain that the gunman had been walking among the group that was with the victim before the shooting.

Additional evidence revealed that Roseboro was the only one in the group with the hairstyle described by the adult. In addition, the direction of the alley that the shooter was seen running into pointed towards Roseboro’s home, which was a short walk from the murder scene. Autopsy evidence revealed that the shooting was at close range, consistent with witness accounts. Firearms evidence was also consistent with the witness accounts of there being one shooter, as the three .45 caliber casings that were recovered from the scene were fired from the same gun.

The government also presented evidence at trial that Roseboro was seen not long after the murder at his home, where he attended a meeting with a job counselor who arrived at the residence no earlier than 5:13 p.m.. The defendant’s demeanor at that meeting was as calm and relaxed as witnesses had reported his demeanor just seconds before the shooting.

As at previous trials, in the most recent trial Roseboro took the witness stand and contended that he had walked home after school with his girlfriend and remained with her at his home during the entire time period until the job counselor arrived. The defense also relied on the testimony of two of Roseboro’s relatives, the defendant’s mother and his cousin, to argue that the defendant had arrived home and stayed at home with his girlfriend during this entire time period.

In addition, the defendant himself denied even knowing the faces of Mr. Okorie’s friends who were with the victim at the time of his murder, claiming that was the case even after hearing their names during jury selection and seeing then seeing them when they took the stand at the first trial. Roseboro also denied ever having hung out near the porch where Mr. Okorie and his friends were before the shooter walked up and asked Mr. Okorie to come along with him to the store. Roseboro did acknowledge that the murder scene was a five- or ten-minute walk from his home.

At the most recent trial, the government presented rebuttal witnesses. The first, who had been called by the defense and had testified similarly at the last trial, testified that the defendant, Mr. Okorie, and Mr. Okorie’s friends did indeed know one another and were all friends, and had all hung out together on previous occasions. The witness also testified that Roseboro had been hanging out with the others near 7th and Emerson Streets on prior occasions before Mr. Okorie’s murder.

The second was Roseboro’s girlfriend at the time of the murder, who was then 16 years old. Her testimony conflicted with that of the defendant and his relatives. The girlfriend’s account – and the defendant’s cellphone records — refuted his contention that he was snuggling with her on the living room couch, and being watched by his mother, at the time of the murder.

In announcing the sentence, U.S. Attorney Machen praised the work of the Metropolitan Police Department, including homicide detectives, mobile crime officers, and firearms examiners, as well as the work of the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner for the District of Columbia. Mr. Machen also thanked the records custodian office for Sprint. U.S. Attorney Machen additionally commended the efforts of those who assisted with the case at the U.S. Attorney’s Office, including Paralegal Specialists Marian Russell, Starla Stolk, Diana-Maria Laventure, Brendan Tracz, and Phaylyn Hunt; Marcey Rinker and Shawn Slade of the Victim Witness Assistant Unit; and Joseph Calvarese and Anisha Bhatia of the Litigation Services Unit. He additionally thanked librarians Lisa Kosow and Abbie Blankman, and Victim/Witness Service Coordinator La June Thames.

Finally, he thanked Assistant U.S. Attorney Stephen J. Gripkey, who indicted and tried the case each of the three times.

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