Arvel Crawford found guilty of two 2009 murders, including one of innocent bystander

He is only 23 years old. But on Thursday, Arvel Crawford of Washington became a three-time convicted murder. Two of the murders, homicide detectives say, were a direct result of Crawford’s poor shooting skills.

On Thursday, a D.C. Superior Court jury convicted Crawford of first-degree murder in the killing of Johnquan Wright, 18, and second-degree murder in the slaying of Nolan Cooper, 61, both in 2008.

During the two-week trial, prosecutors said that around 10 a.m. on Aug. 14, 2008, Crawford, then 18, snuck up behind Wright in the Sursum Corda neighborhood of K Street NW and shot him multiple times in the back. Prosecutors said that Crawford had suspected Wright had killed his cousin during an earlier shooting and sought vengeance.

When he shot Wright, one of the bullets from Crawford’s .45 caliber went through Wright’s body and struck Cooper, a homeless man and innocent bystander, who was loitering nearby. Cooper became what is known on the streets as “collateral damage,” a reference to innocent victims injured or killed during altercations.

“It was bad enough that Crawford took retaliation in his own hands by killing Wright, but he did a lot of collateral damage by killing an innocent bystander in the process,” said Assistant U.S. Attorney Glenn Kirschner during the trial.

Crawford is scheduled to be sentenced on May 16 by Judge Jennifer Anderson. He faces a potential sentence of life in prison.

Wright is already serving an 18-year sentence for the 2009 fatal shooting of his father during a botched robbery of a suspected drug dealer at Fourth Street and Livingston Terrace SE.

According to prosecutors,, Crawford’s gun went off during a scuffle with Crawford’s intended victim and a bullet struck and killed his father, Arvel Alston, 40. Prosecutors said Alston participated in the robbery, along with Reginald Jones, then a uniformed, on-duty D.C. police officer who acted as a lookout in a marked cruiser. Jones later accepted a plea deal and was sentenced to 15 years in prison.

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Keith Alexander covers crime, specifically D.C. Superior Court cases for The Washington Post. He has covered dozens of crime stories from Banita Jacks, the Washington woman charged with killing her four daughters, to the murder trial of intern Chandra Levy.
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