Had the three suspects who allegedly attacked the 30-year-old husband and father simply stolen his wallet, cell phone and keys, as was allegedly the primary motivation, they may not now be facing decades in prison.
However, our D.C. criminal defense lawyers know that when one of the defendants reportedly brought and used an aluminum bat to the scene, it became a whole new ballgame.
One of those defendants is facing 13 serious felony charges, including armed robbery and aggravated assault with a deadly weapon. Prosecutors say the three men, ages 17 to 22, had hatched plan to commit a series of robberies near Capitol Hill last summer.
The alleged victim was among the first, and was walking home after having had some drinks with friends following a Nationals baseball game. It was about 1 a.m.
When the three man rushed up to him, the victim reportedly put up his hands, told them he had only a phone and a bank card, which he handed over. As he turned to walk away, the 17-year-old reportedly struck the victim with the but of BB gun.
The victim began to stagger, dazed from the impact. That's when prosecutors say the 22-year-old suspect took his baseball bat and began beating the victim about the head.
They then left him there, taking his nearby vehicle.
The victim wasn't discovered until nearly 8 a.m. the next day. He was unconscious. His skull had been smashed.
Surgeons say he underwent a number of procedures, but has been left permanently brain-damaged.
The 22-year-old defendant is suspected to be the ring-leader. The 17-year-old defendant is believed to have been concerned about the blood he might get on his new shoes.
The 19-year-old defendant, who pleaded guilty and has agreed to testify against both of them, has said that he began to feel an incredible sense of guilt as he thumbed through the photos of the victim's young child on his stolen iPhone.
The 22-year-old defendant is the first to go on trial.
In Washington D.C., robbery includes three basic elements. There is first the element of violence or force. Then, there is the element that is taking something of value. And finally, the item needs to be taken directly from that person.
Under these circumstances alone, it's a felony under D.C. Criminal Code 22-2801. As such, it's punishable by a minimum of 2 and a maximum of 15 years in prison.
Depending on the circumstances surrounding the offense and whether you have any prior criminal history, that minimum sentence could be boosted to anywhere between 5 to years.
If, however, a weapon is used - and that doesn't have to be a gun - it becomes an armed robbery, in which case the maximum sentence becomes 30 years.
Aggravated assault with a deadly weapon may be equally serious.
In order to prove this crime under D.C. Criminal Code 22-402, prosecutors have to establish each of the following elements:
- The defendant injured or attempted to injure or threatened to injure another person by force or violence;
- That the defendant acted on purpose and voluntarily;
- That the defendant had the actual ability to injure the person;
- That the defendant committed this act with a dangerous weapon.
A conviction for this charge carries a maximum 10 years in prison.
Given the severity of injuries in this case, the prosecution may have at some point also mulled a possible attempted homicide charge. It's not clear why such a charge was not filed in this case.
Anyone who is arrested on charges of robbery or aggravated assault in D.C. should immediately contact an experienced criminal defense attorney.