3 held in Aug. beating near Eastern Market had been arrested on separate robbery charges
Three men accused of beating and robbing a man on Capitol Hill were charged after two of them allegedly described their roles in the crime to detectives more than a month after the attack that put the victim in a coma for six days.
The suspects — Tommy T. Branch, 21, of Fort Washington; Sunny Kuti, 17, of Southeast Washington; and Michael Moore, 18, of Landover — have been charged with armed robbery. They were in D.C. Superior Court on Thursday, standing next to their court-appointed attorneys as a judge ordered them to remain in the D.C. jail until their next hearing.
According to court records, Moore and Branch admitted their involvement in the early morning attack on Thomas C. Maslin on Aug. 18 near Eastern Market. Those admissions came during separate interviews with detectives on Tuesday and Wednesday.
The attack left Maslin with a traumatic brain injury. The men, armed with a black BB gun, had stolen Maslin’s credit card, iPhone and keys in an attack alleged to have happened just after midnight. Maslin, 29, was found unconscious on the front porch of a Capitol Hill rowhouse at about 8 a.m.
Within minutes of the attack, according to court records, the suspects climbed into Branch’s silver Hyundai Sonata and drove to an Exxon station in Southeast where Branch tried unsuccessfully to use Maslin’s credit card.
Police released video footage from the gas station, and court records say that two witnesses told authorities they recognized the vehicle after watching the video.
But Branch, Kuti and Moore were not arrested until after a second alleged attack a few hours later. Court records say they drove to Adams Morgan, where they robbed two men of their wallets and mobile phones at about 3 a.m.
One victim told authorities that an attacker ordered him to “give him everything” and, when he said he did not have anything, was knocked down by a second who brandished a gun, court records said.
“Try fighting now,” one of the attackers allegedly said.
The victim told police he stayed on the ground as another attacker went through the pockets of his pants, court records said.
The second victim told police that he pulled out his wallet and threw it onto the ground after a gun was pointed at him.
Branch, Kuti and Moore were arrested minutes later and found to have the victims’ belongings, according to court records. Neither victim was seriously injured, and the three suspects were charged with armed robbery.
Police also found a black iPhone that did not belong to the suspects or the men in Adams Morgan, court papers say, and it was sent to the department’s property unit.
Authorities, who did not know about the Maslin attack at the time, charged Moore, Branch and Kuti with two counts of armed robbery in connection with the Adams Morgan case. Kuti has been charged as an adult.
At an Aug. 21 hearing, the three were released from the D.C. jail and allowed to return to their homes, where a judge placed them on 24-hour confinement.
Maslin’s case, however, remained unsolved. But new details in court documents made available Thursday reveal how authorities made the decision to charge Moore, Branch and Kuti in the attack on Maslin.
On Sept. 21, detectives received a tip that the car belonged to Branch. On Tuesday, an investigator with the U.S. attorney’s office went to the D.C. police property unit and retrieved the unclaimed iPhone, according to court documents, finding Maslin’s photographs and phone numbers belonging to his family.
It was unclear from court documents what prompted investigators to retrieve the phone on Tuesday. A spokesman for the U.S. attorney’s office declined to comment further on the investigation.In a statement, D.C. Police Chief Cathy L. Lanier called inaccurate “reports that [police] failed to try and track Mr. Maslin’s phone.”and police spokeswoman Gwendolyn Crump declined to answer further questions.
Investigators questioned the Adams Morgan suspects again, according to court documents. In an interview Tuesday, the documents said, Moore admitted that he and his friends beat and robbed Maslin.after seeing him walking alone.
Moore said he pushed Maslin and Kuti displayed the “fake-me-out” BB gun, the court documents say, and Maslin told them he had only a phone and credit card. Moore said Kuti then hit Maslin with the gun and Branch punched Maslin to the ground.
The three then fled in Branch’s car, according to court documents.
Detectives met with Branch on Wednesday, according to court documents, and he admitted assaulting Maslin and stealing his credit card.
The suspects were re-arrested late Wednesday and charged with armed robbery in the Maslin case. They were ordered to remain in jail ahead of an Oct. 12 hearing.
Peter Hermann contributed to this report.