Ex-Official Indicted on Murder Charges
Wednesday, August 1, 2007
Former Prince George's County homeland security official Keith A. Washington was indicted yesterday on charges of murder and attempted murder, ending months of speculation about whether he would be prosecuted for shooting two unarmed furniture deliverymen at his Accokeek home in January.
Washington, who is also a county police corporal, has said that Marlo Furniture deliverymen Brandon D. Clark and Robert White attacked him and that he fired in self-defense. The evidence, however, showed that Washington suffered no injuries supporting that claim, said sources familiar with the investigation.
White, 36, has said that Washington opened fire without provocation after a dispute over the bedroom furniture the men were delivering to his home. Clark, 22, died before he was able to give a statement.
"Obviously, this has been a significant case for the community of Prince George's County," State's Attorney Glenn F. Ivey said as he announced the grand jury indictment yesterday at a news conference in Upper Marlboro. "We wanted to make sure we presented it in a fair way."
Washington, reached by phone at his home before the indictment was issued, declined to comment at length. "I really can't talk," he said. "It's really crazy how people have manipulated this situation."
The grand jury indicted Washington, 46, on charges of second-degree murder and attempted second-degree murder, along with lesser crimes, suggesting that it rejected his claim of self-defense and concluded that evidence showed the shootings were intentional but not premeditated. The charges of murder and attempted murder each carry a maximum term of 30 years.
Michael Worthy, an attorney for Washington, disputed the sources' assertion that Washington was not injured, saying that his client's neck was sprained and that he received a bruise. Police officers, who initially said they expected to charge the deliverymen with assault, have also said that Washington suffered unspecified injuries.
Worthy also said he had been told that forensic analysis showed that the shooting was at close range and that cocaine was detected in White's blood -- claims that were corroborated by the sources who spoke on condition of anonymity because the case remains open. Worthy said cocaine was also detected in Clark's blood, a claim the sources denied.
Worthy expressed surprise at the indictment, saying he had been assured that physical evidence supported his client's version of events. "We believed that the police did an excellent job on the report, and we're surprised that the prosecutor charged him despite that evidence," Worthy said.
Worthy said Washington would voluntarily surrender when he is formally notified of the indictment. A Prince George's judge set Washington's bond at $150,000.
Worthy said he believes his client is being targeted for prosecution because of the high-ranking position he held in the administration of County Executive Jack B. Johnson (D), a claim that Ivey disputed. Washington, a former driver for Johnson, was appointed a senior homeland security official in 2004.
"I believe there's a lot of political pressure on the state's attorney's office with this case, and not only there but elsewhere," Worthy said. "It's highly politicized, not only because of that, but because of my client's political position."