Officials: D.C. attack, robbery suspects may be connected to other crimes

A group of men connected to at least two unsolved summer attacks in the District might include suspects in an August robbery and attack that left a Capitol Hill man in a coma for days, law enforcement officials said Friday.

The two officials, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because those investigations are ongoing, would not detail the unsolved incidents. But the group that police believe may be responsible could include at least two of the three men charged in the beating and robbery of Thomas C. Maslin and another robbery in Adams Morgan that same day, they said.

The other members of the group, the officials said, are still being sought.

The news came as Tommy T. Branch, 21, of Fort Washington, and Sunny Kuti, 17, of Southeast, charged in the Aug. 18 attack on Maslin near Eastern Market, were in D.C. Superior Court for a preliminary hearing. Michael Moore, 18, of Landover, waived his right to a preliminary hearing.

Branch, Kuti and Moore have not been charged in connection with the unsolved attacks, and the law enforcement officials would not say which of them might be suspected of involvement. A D.C. police spokeswoman did not respond to a request for comment Friday.


Thomas C. Maslin, with wife Abigail and son Jack (Courtesy Abigail Maslin/Family photo)

At the hearing, authorities reported new information that they said had come from an investigators’ follow-up interview with Moore. Moore told detectives that Branch hit Maslin with a baseball bat in addition to punching him, testified Detective Robert Saunders, and also said that Kuti struck Maslin with a BB gun.

The three men have also been charged with robbing two men of wallets and mobile phones in Adams Morgan about three hours after the attack on Maslin. Their drive from Capitol Hill to Northwest in Branch’s silver Hyundai Sonata contributed to their capture, authorities say.

The men stopped at a Southeast gas station, authorities said, and tried to use Maslin’s credit card. After surveillance footage from the station was played on TV news and the Internet, an unidentified witness told police of recognizing the car.

The witness also approached Branch about the video before speaking with police, authorities said, and Branch admitted, “We did that.”

Branch and Moore admitted to the attacks, Saunders said, but only Moore detailed each man’s role. Branch, the detective testified, said he knocked Maslin to the ground. Moore told the detectives they believed Maslin was unconscious because they heard him “snoring.”

The men were arrested immediately after the Adams Morgan robbery, but they were not linked to and arrested for the Maslin attack until Sept. 26.

At the time of their initial arrest on Aug. 18, Maslin’s smartphone was found on Moore. But the phone, which sat in a police warehouse, was not identified as Maslin’s until four weeks later. And investigators did not link the three men to the case until the witness contacted police about the Hyundai in the video.

At Friday’s hearing, Branch and Kuti’s attorneys noted that much of authorities’ account of the attack on Maslin came from Moore. They called the story not credible and argued for their clients’ release.

But Judge Robert I. Richter said he found the evidence against them “overwhelming ” and, based on that and the Adams Morgan charges, ordered them held in jail until their next hearing, scheduled for Nov. 8.

Maslin, 29, was found unconscious on the front porch of a Capitol Hill rowhouse about eight hours after the attack. He spent days in a coma and has suffered a traumatic brain injury.

Maslin’s parents and his wife, Abigail, sat in the front row of the courtroom Friday. As marshals escorted the men into the courtroom, Abigail Maslin leaned forward in her seat, her hands clasped, as her mother-in-law rubbed her back. Family members declined to speak following the hearing.

Peter Hermann contributed to this story.

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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