Jury Convicts Johnnie Sweet of First-Degree Murder, Kidnapping in Latisha Frazier Death

Johnnie Sweet turned down a government plea offer he found less than favorable because he said he didn’t play the lead role in Latisha Frazier‘s brutal 2010 death.

A jury, however, disagreed.

After deliberating for about five hours, the jury found Sweet guilty of first-degree murder, kidnapping, first-degree premeditated murder and tampering with physical evidence after about five hours of deliberation. Both of the murder charges carry enhancements for “especially heinous, atrocious, or cruel” homicides.

Sweet argued that his co-defendant, Brian Gaither, was the “ringleader” on Aug. 2, 2010, when Frazier was killed at Sweet’s home in a brutal beating. Sweet, Gaither, Cinthya Proctor, Lanee Bell, Laurence Hassan and Anneka Nelson attacked Frazier because Sweet believed Frazier had stolen $900 from him, prosecutors argued.

Gaither pleaded guilty last year to first-degree murder. He later tried and failed to withdraw the guilty plea; he was sentenced April 9 to 32 years in prison. Sweet’s conviction at trial makes it likely he will face a sentence greater than Gaither’s.

Proctor, Hassan, Bell and Nelson have all accepted plea agreements with prosecutors.

Sweet’s case, the only one of the six to go to trial, featured days of testimony about Frazier’s death, some of it graphic.

Neither Sweet nor Gaither testified at the trial, but jurors heard testimony from one of the young women connected to the case.

Bell, who pleaded guilty to kidnapping Frazier, testified that Frazier’s beating was instigated and orchestrated by Sweet after he discovered $900 missing from his personal belongings.

Sweet told detectives that he suspected Frazier as the thief because “she was the only one in the room” moments before he realized the money was taken.

Bell said that on Aug. 2, 2010, Sweet convinced her, Gaither, and the others to join him in beating and stomping Frazier in the corner of a small bedroom in Sweet’s home.

A few minutes later Sweet went to the front door and returned to the bedroom with his arm around Frazier’s neck as if they were friends, Bell said. Still dressed in her McDonald’s uniform, Frazier sat in a chair and then Sweet closed the bedroom door and said, “Ain’t nobody about to leave.”

Frazier was then hit, stomped, kicked, choked, gagged, tied up, and left for dead. Days later, Frazier’s body was taken to a dumpster. She was never found.

Prosecutors think Frazier’s body was taken to the Shoosmith Landfill in Chesterfield County, Virginia, but investigators have not been able to locate it.

I didn’t know this was going to happen,” Bell testified. “It was like a peer pressure thing.”

Judge Canan is scheduled to sentence Sweet July 11 at 9:30 a.m.

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