Sister and brother found guilty of murder in ’09 slaying of D.C. pizzeria owner

A Capitol Heights woman and her younger brother were found guilty of first-degree murder and conspiracy Wednesday in the beating and stabbing death of a Northeast Washington pizza parlor owner.

Shanika Robinson, 28, bowed her head and rubbed her eyes as the D.C. Superior Court jury read its verdict after two days of deliberations. She was convicted of five of the seven charges against her, including conspiracy and burglary, in the 2009 murder of her brother-in-law, Shahabuddin Rana, 44.

The jury also found Robinson’s younger brother guilty of all seven charges against him, including first-degree premeditated murder. Leon Robinson, 27, stared straight ahead, showing little emotion, as he heard the verdict.

Because the jury found that Rana’s slaying constituted “aggravated circumstances,” the Robinsons face life in prison without parole. They are scheduled to be sentenced on Oct. 14 by Judge William M. Jackson.

Prosecutors said Shanika Robinson orchestrated a plot to murder Rana after he stopped paying her $500 a week in exchange for marrying Rana’s younger brother Allauddin, who had come to the United States from Pakistan in 2006, to help him obtain U.S. citizenship.


Shanika Robinson and Leon Robinson face life without parole in the 2009 killing of pizza shop owner Shahabuddin Rana. (SPECIAL TO THE WASHINGTON POST)

But when immigration officials discovered that the marriage was a sham, and Rana learned of Robinson’s other lovers, Robinson devised a plan to kill him, prosecutors said.

“She’s nobody’s dummy or fool. She used all her skills to come up with a plan to make him pay,” said Assistant U.S. Attorney Michelle Jackson during closing arguments last week.

Robinson orchestrated the murder using two men she knew well, prosecutors said: Isaiah Genus, 28, who had anger issues and was willing to go to great lengths to win Robinson’s affections, and Leon Robinson, an ex-convict who was protective of his sister and who, she knew, would become enraged when she told him how Rana had treated her.

It was evident that the three planned to kill Rana, Jackson argued, because they did not wear masks when they arrived at the shop. “They knew he would not be alive to identify them when they left,” she said.

Prosecutors said Robinson, her brother and Genus went to the pizzeria in the 2300 block of Fourth Street NE about 4 a.m. on Aug. 18, 2009, as Rana worked the overnight shift. Robinson persuaded Rana to let her in through the front door and then the men pushed their way inside.

Genus stabbed Rana and Leon Robinson hit him on the head with a hammer, according to prosecutors; Shanika Robinson allegedly rummaged through the store for things to steal, including about $2,000 in cash. The three then tried to set Rana’s body on fire.

Details of Robinson’s other relationships surfaced during the trial. She said she reluctantly had sex with Allauddin Rana at risk of losing the weekly payments; he remains in the D.C. area. There was also a relationship with Terrence Green, a married D.C. police detective who hanged himself in his mother’s basement after he was questioned by authorities subsequent to the murder.

Genus, 28, also often shared Shanika Robinson’s bed. The government’s star witness, he pleaded guilty to second-degree murder and testified that he planned the murder with the Robinsons.

On the stand, Shanika Robinson also surprisingly acknowledged a “friend” who was a U.S. deputy marshal. She refused to identify him, despite prosecutors’ efforts.

Leon Robinson testified that he was not at the pizza parlor when Rana was killed. More than 140 fingerprints were found at the scene, but not his. Prosecutors said he wore gloves during the murder.

And Shanika Robinson testified that she was sitting in a car outside the pizza parlor when her brother and boyfriend fatally beat and killed Rana. The three went inside, Robinson said, but she left and waited in the car when Genus began arguing with Rana.

After the verdict, Leon Robinson’s attorney, Kevin McCants, said his client “never had a chance” after his sister took the stand. “She manipulated the jury and torpedoed his defense.”

Shahabuddin Rana’s daughter, Zeenashah, 20, said she was “relieved.”

“The justice system did provide justice,” she said. “I don’t know what I would have done if it didn’t.”

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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