Alton Alonso Best, the 31-year-old District man whom police have described as a suspect in the slayings of five women found dead in Prince George's County, was sentenced in D.C. Superior Court yesterday to 18 1/3 years to life for the January murder of a Southeast woman.

Judge Reggie Walton sentenced Best to 15 years to life for the murder of Janice Elaine Morton, 20, whose body was found Jan. 15 in an alley near 414 Eastern Ave. NE.

Walton gave Best an additional sentence of 40 months to five years for sodomy. The sentences are to run consecutively.

Morton, who was 12 to 14 weeks pregnant, was found sodomized and strangled.

Best pleaded guilty to second-degree murder in exchange for the government's dropping first-degree murder and rape charges.

Best, who told Walton he regretted the killing, remains a suspect in the five Suitland slayings, but he has not been charged in those cases, Prince George's police spokesman Robert Law said yesterday.

Shortly afterward, police said there were striking similarities between Morton's death and the Suitland slayings. All but one of the women lived in Southeast Washington. All were black, in their early to mid-twenties, and all had been sexually assaulted.

After yesterday's sentencing, however, defense lawyer Neal Kravitz said there was "absolutely no basis" for linking Best to the Suitland murders.

"All along the government and the police department have capitalized on the press's hunger for any information that would make it look like these crimes have been solved," Kravitz said. "Actually, the evidence points the other way."

"The tragedy of this case is that Mr. Best is a really nice, thoughtful, nonviolent man who did something horrible because of his drug use," he said. "It is sad. It really is a tragedy."

Police were led to Best after they identified a black van in which Morton was seen riding on the night she died.

The van was registered to Best's nephew, William A. Armah, a D.C. police officer.

Armah has not been charged in the case, but has been on administrative leave with pay pending completion of an investigation. Staff writer Keith Harriston contributed to this report.