Six teenagers, all from Maryland, were indicted today on murder, armed robbery, and other charges stemming from the slaying last fall of 18-year-old Olijawon Griffin at the Woodley Park Metro station, announced U.S. Attorney Ronald C. Machen Jr., Cathy L. Lanier, Chief of the Metropolitan Police Department (MPD), and Michael Taborn, Chief of the Metro Transit Police.
The defendants, charged as adults, were indicted by a grand jury in the Superior Court of the District of Columbia. They have been in custody since their arrests last year.
Only one of the six defendants – Chavez Myers, 17 - previously was charged with the murder. The indictment alleges that all six teenagers are responsible for Mr. Griffin’s death.
In addition to Myers, of District Heights, the defendants include Muquan Cawthorne, 16, of Mount Rainier; Isaiah Gant, 16, of Hyattsville; Gary Maye, 17, of Hyattsville; Deon Jefferson, 17, of Landover, and Immanuel Swann, 17, of Brentwood.
Myers was indicted on a charge of first-degree premeditated murder while armed, and the others were indicted on a charge of felony murder. In addition, all six defendants were indicted on charges of armed robbery, assault with a dangerous weapon, assault causing significant bodily injury, and weapons offenses for their roles in attacks on Mr. Griffin and one of his friends. If convicted, the defendants could face decades in prison for the crimes.
The six teenagers, and three others not identified by name in the indictment, allegedly conspired on Nov. 16, 2012 and Nov. 17, 2012 to commit robberies in the District of Columbia. According to the indictment, plans called for robbing people of their iPhones and other items of value. The group took a Metro train on the night of Nov. 16, 2012, from the West Hyattsville, Md. station to the Gallery Place/Chinatown station in Northwest Washington. From there, they took another train to the Woodley Park Metro station to begin their crimes, the indictment states.
After leaving the Metro station, they crossed the Duke Ellington Bridge to the Adams Morgan area to find targets, the indictment alleges.
The indictment alleges that the group decided to target Mr. Griffin shortly after midnight, early Nov. 17, attacking him near a gas station in the 1800 block of Adams Mill Road NW. Cawthorne, who was carrying a gun, gave it to Maye, and Maye pointed it at Mr. Griffin, the indictment alleges. Mr. Griffin was robbed of his Helly Hansen coat and hat. The nine assailants then walked back toward the Woodley Park Metro station, intending to take a train back to West Hyattsville, the indictment states, and Jefferson was wearing Mr. Griffin’s coat.
Mr. Griffin and his two companions arrived at the Metro station shortly after the assailants. They approached the assailants in an attempt to get Mr. Griffin’s property back. According to the indictment, the six defendants and the other three individuals repeatedly punched, kicked and stomped one of Mr. Griffin’s companions while he was lying prone and defenseless on the floor of the station platform. Once the friend rose to his feet, the indictment states, the group again took him to the ground and repeatedly punched, kicked and stomped him. During this second attack, Cawthorne allegedly took the victim’s wallet, stealing $150 from it.
After this incident, according to the indictment, Myers, wearing a ski mask and carrying a knife, snuck up on Mr. Griffin on the station’s mezzanine level; Mr. Griffin had been attempting to draw the defendants to that level in an effort to get them away from his injured friend. Myers came up from behind Mr. Griffin and stabbed Mr. Griffin, who was unarmed, once in the heart, the indictment alleges. Mr. Griffin died a short time later.
An indictment is merely a formal charge that a defendant has committed a violation of criminal laws and every defendant is presumed innocent until, and unless, proven guilty.
This case is being investigated by the Metropolitan Police Department and the Metro Transit Police Department. Assistance was provided by Assistant Attorney General Marybeth Manfreda, of the District of Columbia Office of the Attorney General, which continues to handle the part of this case involving charges against juveniles.
The case against the six defendants who were indicted today is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Justin Dillon, Kathleen A. Connolly, and Kevin F. Flynn.