D.C. man pleads guilty to killing H Street deli owner

A District man charged in the fatal shooting of a popular H Street delicatessen owner pleaded guilty Friday to second-degree murder in D.C. Superior Court.

Steven Williams, 46, admitted that he killed Hae Soon Lim, 64, on June 14 by shooting her in the back of the neck.

Lim owned Grace’s Deli in the 700 block of H Street NE. Authorities said video from a crime-surveillance camera a block away showed Lim’s car pulling up to the deli around 5:25 a.m. the day she was killed. Assistant U.S. Attorney Michael C. Liebman said the video showed an unidentified person quickly crossing H Street on foot, moving toward the front of the restaurant and interacting with Lim.

Liebman said Williams was identified as Lim’s killer after his DNA was found on a handgun holster on the floor next to her body. His DNA also was on an empty cash register behind the counter. He was charged in November.

At Friday’s hearing, when Liebman described how Lim was killed, her son Peter, 37, who was sitting in the courtroom just a few feet behind the defendant, began weeping openly.

When Judge Robert E. Morin asked Williams how he wished to plead to the charge, Williams, wearing an orange D.C. jail jumpsuit and standing next to his public defender, said “guilty.”

As part of his plea agreement, Williams faces between 20 and 28 years in prison; without the plea, he faced a maximum of 40 years. Before Williams was escorted out of the courtroom, the judge told him: “I will take into account you taking responsibility in this matter.”

Williams is scheduled to be sentenced in June about the time of the anniversary of Lim’s slaying, her son noted. His parents owned the deli for about eight years, but the family has no plans to reopen it.

“My dad lost his companion of 40 years, his house and the store,” Peter Lim said after the hearing. Lim said his emotions were “torn” by the plea agreement. “I’d like to see him get more time. But this helps in the healing process.”

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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