January 28
THE DISTRICT
Judge overturns man’s murder conviction

A D.C. Superior Court judge on Tuesday overturned the murder conviction of a District man whose co-defendant was exonerated by DNA testing in 2012.

Cleveland Wright, 55, served 28 years in prison after being convicted of killing a floral shop worker in arobbery in July 1978. He maintained he was innocent, and in August he asked a judge to review his case.

Wright’s attorneys noted that DNA testing led a judge to declare his co-defendant innocent in 2012. Since prosecutors said that the two men had committed a pair of murders together, the D.C. Public Defender Service argued, no jury would have convicted Wright if it knew of the new evidence.

In a two-page court order signed Tuesday, Judge Laura A. Cordero vacated Wright’s conviction and dismissed the underlying charges. Cordero said a decision on Wright’s petition for a certificate of innocence would be issued later.

U.S. Attorney Ronald C. Machen Jr., agreed Jan. 15 with the defense motion to reverse Wright’s conviction and will not to try him again.

— Spencer S. Hsu

MARYLAND
Pedestrian killed by car in District Heights

Prince George’s County Police said they are investigating an accident that left a 31-year-old pedestrian dead in District Heights.

Ahmaad Sarod Henderson of the 3500 block of 56th Street in Cheverly was struck at about 9:40 p.m. Monday by a car that was going west on Pennsylvania Avenue near Parkland Drive. Police said Henderson was “in the roadway” and was “not in a crosswalk.”

The driver stayed on the scene and was treated for minor injuries.

— Dana Hedgpeth

Mental health review for slaying suspect

A Montgomery County judge on Tuesday ordered a mental health evaluation at a state forensic hospital for the younger of two women accused of killing two toddlers during what they described as an exorcism.

Monifa Sanford, 21, will be transferred from the county jail, where she has been held for a week, to the Clifton T. Perkins Hospital Center, a maximum-security facility in Jessup.

On the morning of Jan. 17, Montgomery police were called to a townhouse in Germantown, where they found two children — a 1-year-old boy and a 2-year-old girl — stabbed to death. Two other children, ages 5 and 8, also had been stabbed, and they were hospitalized. Detectives arrested Sanford and Zakieya Avery, 28, the mother of the four children. Both were charged with two counts of first-degree murder and two counts of attempted first-degree murder.

— Dan Morse

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