Man Charged With Murder in Reporter's Killing

Michael C. Hamlin, center, is arrested in the killing of David E. Rosenbaum.
Michael C. Hamlin, center, is arrested in the killing of David E. Rosenbaum. (By Nikki Kahn -- The Washington Post)
By Clarence Williams and Allan Lengel
Washington Post Staff Writers
Friday, January 13, 2006

A 23-year-old maintenance man from Southeast Washington was arrested last night and charged in the robbery and slaying of New York Times journalist David E. Rosenbaum, police said. They also were seeking one other person.

Michael C. Hamlin was arrested shortly after 6 p.m. when he walked into the 7th District police station in the 2400 block of Alabama Avenue SE, which is in the block where he lives, and asked why "my face is on TV," police said.

Only an hour earlier, police had released to the media images from surveillance videotapes taken at a CVS store in Southeast Washington and an auto parts business in Prince George's County. Police said the tapes showed Hamlin using or attempting to use Rosenbaum's credit cards shortly after Rosenbaum was robbed near his home in Northwest Washington on Jan. 6.

Hamlin walked into the police station last night wearing the same dark jacket, with his first name sewed onto a chest patch, that he had been wearing in a surveillance tape, police said.

Police drove Hamlin to the department's violent crimes branch, where he provided detectives with a statement on the slaying, police said. He was charged with felony murder.

"It did wrap up rather quickly," Detective Anthony Paci said during a news conference last night outside the violent crimes branch.

After talking with Hamlin, police declined to discuss a motive for the attack other than robbery, and they declined to say why the mugging turned violent. But they did say that the attack appeared to be random and that Rosenbaum had not been targeted.

Police also declined to say whether Hamlin provided them with any information on the second person involved in the attack.

Rosenbaum died Sunday night, two days after a neighborhood resident found him dazed on a sidewalk in the 3800 block of Gramercy Street NW, not far from his home between Connecticut and Wisconsin avenues. He had been taking a walk after dinner when he was attacked about 9 p.m.

Rosenbaum, 63, had retired days earlier from the New York Times Washington bureau, where he had been a reporter and editor for more than 30 years. He planned to continue contributing to the newspaper as a freelancer.

The D.C. medical examiner concluded that Rosenbaum died from blunt-force trauma to the head.

The arrest was welcome news to those close to him.

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