Remaining Defendants in 21st and Vietnam Murder Trial Plead Guilty to Lesser Charges

Instead of beginning their scheduled trial Monday, Anthony Hatton, Johnnie Harris and Jekwan Smith each pleaded guilty to criminal charges in connection with the 2011 shooting deaths of Tyrell Fogle and Isaiah Sheffield.

  • Hatton pleaded guilty to second-degree murder while armed in connection with the murder of Fogle, for a 15-year prison sentence.
  • Harris pleaded guilty to voluntary manslaughter while armed in connection with the murder of Sheffield, carrying a sentence of 10 years.
  • Smith pleaded guilty to two counts of voluntary manslaughter while armed; one count for Sheffield’s murder and another for the 2007 murder of Michael Pearson. He’ll likely be sentenced to 17 and a half years.

In exchange for their pleas, prosecutors agreed to drop the men’s remaining charges.

Prosecutors alleged that the three men, along with Kevin Charles and Stanley Moghalu, were linked by their allegiance to 21st and Vietnam, a group charged with 21 criminal counts, including murder charges related to the deaths of Fogle, Sheffield and Steven Moore.

Fogle, 17, was killed Aug. 29, 2011. Two MPD officers witnessed the shooting and chased Hatton through the neighborhood, according to charging documents. Hatton eventually dropped a gun and police arrested him, documents say.

Sheffield, 24, was killed Sept. 24, 2011. Charging documents state that a witness saw a group of young men shooting Sheffield as he rode his bike past them on the 1100 block of 21st Street Northeast. Smith and Harris were both arrested and charged in Sheffield’s death.

Prosecutors alleged that 36-year-old Moore, who died on Dec. 3, 2011, was killed because he was suspected of being an informant to police.

In September 2013, jurors cleared Harris and Moghalu of charges in Moore’s death.

Charles pleaded guilty to voluntary manslaughter while armed and conspiracy to commit a crime of violence in June 2013, a plea that is being reviewed by Judge Greene.

Sentencing for Hatton, Harris and Smith is scheduled for 10:30 a.m. on November 14.

A press release from the United States Attorney’s Office is below.

WASHINGTON – Anthony Hatton, James L. Harris, and Jekwan Smith, all members of a crew that operated in and near 21st Street and Maryland Avenue in Northeast Washington, pled guilty today to charges stemming from a series of murders that took place in the area, U.S. Attorney Ronald C. Machen Jr. announced.

Hatton, 21, Harris, 22, and Smith, 23, all of Washington, D.C., pled guilty on the day their trial was to begin in the Superior Court of the District of Columbia. According to the government’s evidence, the defendants and other crew members sold drugs and carried guns in the area of 21st and Maryland NE and committed violent crimes, including killing those whose interests were contrary to those of the crew.

Hatton pled guilty to a charge of second-degree murder while armed for the murder of Tyrell Fogle, which took place at about 10:30 p.m. on Aug. 29, 2011. Mr. Fogle, 17, was shot multiple times and collapsed in front of a building in the 1900 block of Bennett Place NE.

Harris and Smith pled guilty to voluntary manslaughter while armed for the shooting death of Isaiah Sheffield, which took place at about 1:45 a.m. on Sept. 24, 2011. Mr. Sheffield, 24, was shot in the 1100 block of 21st Street NE.

Smith also pled guilty to voluntary manslaughter while armed for the shooting death of Michael Pearson, which took place at about 8:20 p.m. on Oct. 29, 2007. Mr. Pearson, 27, was shot in the 2100 block of I Street NE.

The plea agreements, which are contingent upon the Court’s approval, call for Hatton to be sentenced to 15 years of incarceration, Harris to 10 years, and Smith to 17 ½ years in prison. The Honorable Lynn Leibovitz scheduled sentencing for Nov. 14, 2014.

In announcing the pleas, U.S. Attorney Machen praised the investigative work of the Metropolitan Police Department, U.S. Park Police, and the U.S. Marshal Service. He also expressed appreciation for the work of Dr. Lois Goslinoski and Dr. Marie Pierre-Louis of the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner of the District of Columbia. He acknowledged the efforts of those who worked on the case from the U.S. Attorney’s Office, including Paralegal Specialists Alesha Matthews and Meridith McGarrity; Intelligence Analyst Zachary McMenamin; Criminal Investigator Durand Odom; Witness Security Specialists Debra Cannon, David Foster, Michael Hailey, and Tanya Via; Litigation Services Specialists Ron Royal, William Henderson and Paul Howell; and Victim/Witness Advocate Marcia Rinker.

Finally, he commended the work of Assistant U.S. Attorneys Laura R. Bach and Erin O. Lyons, who investigated and prosecuted the cases.

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