By Henri E. Cauvin
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, April 19, 2007
The only person convicted of any charges in connection with a fatal stabbing at a D.C. nightclub was sentenced yesterday to 7 1/2 years in prison.
Jerome Jones was not accused of killing the victim, Terrence Brown, two years ago at Club U in Northwest Washington. But he was alleged to have slashed Brown with a box cutter during a fight that ended with the stabbing.
Jones, 32, of Northeast Washington, was acquitted by a jury in D.C. Superior Court of assault with intent to kill but convicted of simple assault, possession of a prohibited weapon and obstruction of justice.
The most serious of the offenses, obstruction, stemmed from a conversation days after the stabbing. Knowing that police viewed him as a suspect, Jones asked a friend to say that she had seen him leave the nightclub through the back door. Jones had left through a back door, his lawyer said. But the friend hadn't seen Jones exit, and when the conversation between them came to light, Jones was charged with obstruction of justice.
Facing a recommended five to nine years in prison for the obstruction, Jones was given 5 1/2 years by Judge Herbert B. Dixon Jr., who said a sentence on the low end of the guidelines was appropriate given the nature of his conduct. For simple assault, a misdemeanor, Jones was sentenced to six months, and for the weapons charge, he got a year and eight months.
The sentence comes on top of a seven-year sentence that Jones is serving for an unrelated federal gun charge.
No one else has been charged in the Feb. 13, 2005, death of Brown, which led to the closing of Club U. Housed in the Frank D. Reeves Municipal Center at 14th and U streets, the club had long drawn complaints about violence in and around it.
Police and prosecutors have said they believe they know who killed Brown, 31, of Northeast Washington, but they have not been able to build a case against the person.
In a strange twist, the two original detectives on the case are facing criminal charges for allegedly tainting the investigation. Detectives Erick Brown and Milagros Morales recently were indicted on federal charges that they conspired to alter key witness accounts of the stabbing.
The witnesses had told investigators that they had seen a man, who turned out to be Jones, wielding a box cutter during the early-morning melee. But a forensic examination concluded that a box cutter could not have killed Brown. The detectives then allegedly told witnesses to change their accounts to conform to the evidence. One was told, for example, to say that Jones had a "knife-like" object, the indictment charges.
After the inconsistencies began to emerge, Brown and then Morales were taken off the case. Attorneys for Brown and Morales have denied the allegations.