It began as a night of ill-advised socializing, lubricated by illegal drugs, and ended with Terry Hairston dead in his Southeast Washington home. Yesterday, the two young women he was with that night last May pleaded guilty to murdering the once-promising politician.
With Hairston's mother and sisters looking on, some of them in tears, Arkeeta Hendrick, 21, and Dannielle Wayne, 22, pleaded guilty to second-degree murder, admitting that they wanted to rob Hairston and killed him when he put up a fight.
Arkeeta Hendrick, left, and Dannielle Wayne, shown during a court appearance in December, will be sentenced in June for murder.
(Illustration William J. Hennessy Jr. For The Washington Post)
Elected to the D.C. Board of Education when he was 28, Hairston a decade later was trying to resurrect his career with a run for the Ward 7 seat on the D.C. Council.
In the years between, Hairston's life had hit some bumps, from an arrest on assault charges and a marriage that lasted less than a year to a stay in a Florida drug treatment center.
Even after yesterday's pleas, the events leading up to his killing remain murky. Hairston had met at least one of the women before and ran into the two of them on the night of May 15, according to one of the lawyers in the case.
Invited over to socialize, Hendrick and Wayne showed up at Hairston's Burns Street SE home concealing guns and their true motive -- robbery, according to the prosecutor, Assistant U.S. Attorney John M. Cummings.
The court papers filed yesterday do not describe the socializing, but earlier court papers indicated that the group was smoking marijuana and drinking alcohol. Wayne's defense attorney yesterday acknowledged those details.
But the robbery did not go as planned, Cummings said. Hairston struggled with Wayne, and Hendrick tried to come to her aid. Hairston then knocked Hendrick to the ground. Hendrick drew her gun, pointed it at Hairston, who was continuing to struggle with Wayne, and fired a single shot.
Struck under the right armpit, Hairston was mortally wounded. His body was discovered the next day by a friend sent over by worried relatives.
Hendrick and Wayne fled the scene in the car Hairston had rented while his car was in the shop. But they returned a short time later in an attempt to eliminate incriminating evidence, using a bleach-soaked rag to wipe down the home, according to prosecutors.
Hairston, close to former mayor and current D.C. Council member Marion Barry, was described by many who knew him as charming and caring, determined to help make his neighborhood and his city better places.
It was that determination that drove him to once again seek office. He had served on the school board from 1995 to 1998. But he grew tired of the acrimony surrounding school politics and, having lost a 1996 run for the Ward 7 seat on the D.C. Council, turned away from politics for several years after his term on the school board ended. Among other things, he traveled to South Korea to teach English and, until just before he was killed, worked as a substitute teacher in Montgomery County.
But life in Southeast, where he had kept his roots even as others in his family decamped for the suburbs, convinced him that he should give politics and service another go.
After his death, his mother took his place on the ballot and finished third, with about 10 percent of the vote.
Late yesterday, as she watched her son's killers plead guilty, Hairston's mother cried softly. When she emerged from the courtroom later, she was reluctant to say anything.
"We're very pleased at the outcome," she said before walking away, trailed by her daughters.
Nearby, relatives of the defendants tried to comfort each other, one woman wailing as she cried into a man's shoulder.
Each of the women faces as much as 40 years in prison. Judge Rhonda Reid Winston will sentence Hendrick June 17 and Wayne June 21.