Jeffrey Mills was found guilty Thursday of voluntary maslaughter while armed and carrying a dangerous weapon during crime of violence in connection with the 2012 death of 45-year-old Juan Antonio Paredes.
Jurors in the case delivered their verdict around 5:00 p.m. Thursday after deliberating for less than five hours.
Mills, 50, was charged with first-degree premeditated murder while armed; voluntary manslaughter while armed is a lesser offense.
Police found Paredes on January 14, 2012 just before 2:00 p.m. one block from the Columbia Heights metro station. Paredes had been beaten and was lying on the ground. He was transported to a local hospital where he died of his injuries the next day.
During trial, Mills testified that he attacked Paredes with a steel barbell in self defense after Paredes approached him with a knife.
In closing arguments Thursday, though, prosecutors argued that Mills’ testimony was not truthful, and that he killed Paredes out of anger.
Charging documents state, Mills, a street vendor, told police that on the day of the attack Paredes had “threatened to cut him with a machete-shaped pocket knife.”
Eluopeo Argueta, Paredes’ friend who witnessed the attack, testified that Paredes never threatened Mills, and held nothing in his hands, which were by his side, when Mills approached him.
Argueta told jurors that when Paredes was hit by Mills, he fell to the ground and was bleeding from the head. Mills then approached Paredes again, and hit him with the bar in a downward motion “with force”, Argueta testified.
Mills said, though, that he never struck Paredes while he was on the ground and that he “might’ve stomped his forearm to get my pole out of his hands”.
But Edgar Villatoro, another friend of Paredes, testified that Paredes never held the pole and only put his hands up to defend himself. After Paredes was on the ground, Mills “kept hitting him in the stomach with the pole” said Villatoro.
Mills’ defense attorney, William Roberts called the government’s witnesses inconsistent in their testimony and that the knife Paredes had during the attack was discarded by his friends.
The case is scheduled for sentencing on February 21, 2014 with Judge John Ramsey Johnson.
Megan Arellano contributed to this story.