“I just want to say that I’m sorry for my actions,” Coates, 28, said in entering his plea.
Coates was arrested June 11, more than two years after police found Studevant dead in Marvin Gaye Park with a broken knife blade under his body and a belt around his neck. A medical examiner determined Studevant’s cause of death to be strangulation associated with piercing blunt force trauma.
According to Coates’ plea documents, sometime before 1:00 a.m. on Dec. 31, 2011, Coates, Alex Cater and Studevant were walking down 42nd Street Northeast. Along the way, Cater got upset because Studevant would not give him a cigarette. So he forced Studevant into nearby Marvin Gaye Park and began assaulting him; Coates followed, documents say.
During the assault, Studevant managed to break away and run across the park. Coates and Cater chased Studevant, and after they cornered him, Cater pulled out a knife and stabbed him. Cater then gave the knife to Coates who also stabbed Studevant.
Plea documents say Cater pushed Studevant to the ground and then he and Coates began kicking him. While Studevant was on the ground, Coates removed the belt from Studevant’s waist and choked him with it until he no longer resisted, documents say.
During the altercation, a wallet and cell phone were removed from Studevant’s pockets. Documents say Coates took money from the wallet, which he and Cater shared.
Coates is scheduled to be sentenced September 23.
Cater pled guilty in connection with Studevant’s death last month. He is scheduled for a status hearing August 20.
Plea documents and a press release from the U.S. Attorney’s Office is below.
District Man Pleads Guilty to Second-Degree Murder While Armed In 2011 Strangling at Northeast Washington Park -Victim Was Stabbed, Choked and Robbed in Late-Night Attack-
WASHINGTON – Mark Coates, 28, of Washington, D.C., pled guilty today to a charge of second-degree murder while armed for the December 2011 slaying of a man at a park in Northeast Washington, U.S. Attorney Ronald C. Machen Jr. announced.
Coates pled guilty in the Superior Court of the District of Columbia. The Honorable Herbert B. Dixon, Jr. scheduled sentencing for Sept. 23, 2013.
According to the government’s evidence, between 11 p.m. on Friday, Dec. 30, 2011, and 1 a.m. on Saturday, Dec. 31, 2011, Coates and an accomplice forced the victim, Leroy Studevant, 56, into the Marvin Gaye Park in the 4200 block of Hunt Place NE, where they punched and kicked him.
During the assault, Mr. Studevant managed to escape, and he ran across the park. However, Coates and the accomplice chased Mr. Studevant through the park, until Coates ultimately cut off Mr. Studevant’s flight path. Using a knife, Coates and his accomplice then stabbed Mr. Studevant. After forcing Mr. Studevant to the ground, Coates and his accomplice kicked him, and Coates was able to unhook and remove Mr. Studevant’s belt from around his waist. The belt was placed around Mr. Studevant’s neck as a noose, and he was choked with the belt until he no longer resisted. During the altercation, a wallet and cell phone were removed from Mr. Studevant’s pockets. Coates and his accomplice split the money in the wallet.
An autopsy determined that Mr. Studevant died as a result of the strangling and assault in the park. The reason for the attack was because the victim would not share his cigarettes.
In announcing the plea, U.S. Attorney Machen praised the work of the detectives, officers, and crime scene technicians who investigated the case for the Metropolitan Police Department. He also commended the efforts of those who worked on the case from the U.S. Attorney’s Office, including Paralegal Specialists Kendra Johnson, Ethel Nobel, Marian Russell, and Sandra Lane; Lead Paralegal Specialist Sharon Newman; Victim/Witness Advocate Tamara Ince; Victim Witness Security Specialist Katina Adams-Washington; Investigator Nelson Rhone; and Intelligence Specialists Lawrence Grasso, Zachary McMenamin, Shannon Alexis, and Sharon Johnson. Finally, U.S. Attorney Machen recognized the efforts of Assistant U.S. Attorney Kimberley Nielsen and Assistant U.S. Attorney Robert Feitel, who investigated and prosecuted the case.