District man sentenced to 52 years in beating death of Latisha Frazier, 18

A 19-year-old District man was sentenced Thursday to 52 years in prison for orchestrating the murder of his 18-year-old friend, whose body has never been found.

D.C. Superior Court Judge Russell F. Canan sentenced Johnnie Sweet in connection with the August 2010 kidnapping and murder of a young Southeast mother, Latisha Frazier.

A jury found Sweet guilty of first-degree murder with aggravating circumstances and other charges.

According to prosecutors, on Aug. 2, 2010, Sweet persuaded five of his friends, then ages 16 to 23, to beat Frazier because he believed she had stolen $900 from him. Prosecutors said there was no evidence that Frazier stole the money or even knew anything about it.

Sweet lured Frazier to an apartment in the 1700 block of Trenton Place in Southeast, where he and his friends beat her, gagged her with duct tape, put a pillowcase over her head and shoved her into a closet, where she suffocated. Prosecutors said Sweet then ordered his friends to dismember Frazier’s body in a bathtub. When they couldn’t go through with it, they dumped Frazier’s body in the trash, prosecutors said. The body is believed to have been taken to a Virginia landfill, but it was never recovered.


Latisha Frazier is seen in a "missing persons" flyer in this January 2011 photo. (Katherine Frey/The Washington Post)

Before the arrests, Frazier was considered missing for months. Her family held out hope of finding her and posted signs in her neighborhood. Sweet and his friends were arrested in February 2011.

All of Sweet’s co-defendants pleaded guilty to various charges associated with Frazier’s death. Three have been sentenced to prison terms ranging from 18 years to 32 years. Three co-defendants — including Lanee Bell, 20, who during Sweet’s trial testified that she participated in the beating because of “peer pressure” — are awaiting sentencing.

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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