District man sentenced to 27 years in prison in fatal shooting of H Street deli owner

A District man who pleaded guilty in the 2012 murder and robbery of the owner of a popular H Street deli was sentenced to 27 years in prison Friday.

Prosecutors described Steven Williams, 47, as a “career criminal, parole violator and occasional customer” of Grace’s Deli at 701 H St. NE. They said that on the morning of June 14, 2012, Williams shot Hae Soon Lim, 64, as she prepared to open the deli for the day’s business.

Lim had just parked her car and crossed the street toward carryout store when Williams approached her and pushed his way in with plans to rob her, prosecutors said.

Within minutes, Lim lay dead on the floor with a single gunshot wound to the back of her neck. The ATM inside the small store and two cash registers were found empty. Lim’s handbag, which she used to carry money between her home and the deli, was missing.

For months, the case went unsolved. Authorities got a break after Williams’s DNA was found on a handgun holster left on the floor next to Lim’s body. His DNA also was found on a cash register.

Williams was arrested in November and charged with second-degree murder. He pleaded guilty in April.

As part of the plea bargain, prosecutors agreed not to ask for more than 28 years in prison, and Williams and his attorney agreed not to seek less than 20 years.

Without the agreement, Williams faced a maximum of 70 years in prison.

Prosecutors said Williams had faced numerous charges since he was 17, including gun charges, assault with a deadly weapon and armed robbery.

“The community needs to be protected from this defendant,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Michael C. Liebman wrote in his sentencing memo.

D.C. Superior Court Judge Robert J. Morin also sentenced Williams to five years of supervised release.

The Lim family had owned the deli for about eight years. Family members shuttered the business after Lim’s death.

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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