A D.C. Superior Court jury convicted a 28-year-old Washington man yesterday of raping and murdering a woman who was abducted near her home in the Fairfax Village complex in Southeast Washington more than three years ago.
It was the second time in 10 years that the defendant, Willie L. Minick, has been convicted of raping a woman in the area near where he lived in Southeast.
Minick's conviction yesterday stemmed from an incident early on Feb. 27, 1980, about six months after Minick had been paroled on his first rape conviction.
Superior Court Judge George H. Revercomb set Minick's sentencing for Sept. 12. The mandatory sentence for a first degree murder conviction is 20 years to life.
Minick, who has been in custody on parole violation charges since he was arrested in 1980, also has two charges pending against him of robbing other women in the same neighborhood about two months before the rape and murder.
The case against Minick was based on circumstantial evidence that assistant U.S. Attorney Steven D. Gordon said conclusively tied him to the rape and murder of Suella King, 32, an assistant manager at the Greyound bus terminal here.
Government testimony revealed that Minick's wallet was found about 30 feet from where King's half-naked body was discovered in a wooded area behind 2135 Suitland Ter. SE. She had been strangled after being sexually assaulted.
Government witnesses also said that hair strands matching King's hair were found on Minick's body, pants and sweat socks when he was arrested and that hair similar to Minick's was found on a sweater King was wearing.
Police arrested Minick in his home in the 3900 block of R Street SE hours after his wallet--containing his driver's license and other identification--was found near King's body.
The defense argued, among other things, that Minick had lost his wallet several days before the incident and that he was dropping off a friend in Arlington at the time the government says the abduction took place. The defense also noted that the discovery of matching hair strands does not prove conclusively that they came from Minick.
Minick's trial was delayed more than two years while the government appealed a Superior Court judge's ruling that suppressed the hairs and other physical evidence police obtained from Minick and his house when he was arrested.
The D.C. Court of Appeals overturned the ruling and said police may enter a home without an arrest warrant and conduct a search in conjunction with the arrest in cases where they believe a delay might enable a suspect to destroy potential evidence.