A Landover Hills man was convicted yesterday of killing a CIA intelligence officer in June 2000 during a failed robbery in Northwest Washington.
Ronald T. Stephenson, 20, was convicted in a jury trial of first-degree felony murder and other charges in the slaying of John Muskopf Jr., who was shot as he and two friends walked to Muskopf's home in Northwest Washington. Prosecutors said Muskopf, 28, was shot by Stephenson, who fired from a car.
Stephenson was arrested about two months after the June 17, 2000, shooting. He faces a prison term of 30 years to life when he is sentenced March 14 by D.C. Superior Court Judge Robert I. Richter.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Jay I. Bratt told jurors that Muskopf and two friends, Eric Needy and Rangaraj Bakthavathsalam, were stopped by three men about 2:30 a.m. near Muskopf's home in the 1800 block of 10th Street NW.
Bratt said that Stephenson, who was driving a car carrying Shelton Ford and Darrell Hendy, pulled alongside the men before Ford got out and grabbed Bakthavathsalam, demanded all their money and fired a shot toward the ground.
Muskopf then told his friends, "Don't worry, guys. Those are only blanks," Bratt said. Then, according to the two friends who testified at the trial, Muskopf, who had just moved to the street, told the men, "Get out of my neighborhood."
Stephenson then pulled out a .38-caliber revolver and shot Muskopf once in the neck, killing him, Bratt said. About two weeks later, Bratt said, Stephenson told another man, Dwight Walker, of the killing. Walker later told police, who asked Walker to record a conversation with Stephenson.
On July 28, 2000, Stephenson went to Walker's home and gave him an account of the shooting, captured on a hidden camera. Then, on Aug. 10, 2000, after he was arrested, Stephenson made another statement about the shooting to D.C. police on videotape. The jury heard both statements despite objections from defense attorney Ferris R. Bond.
In the July recording, Stephenson boasts to Walker that there is no way police can prove he pulled the trigger unless he is caught on videotape saying he did it.
Ford and Hendy were not charged and did not testify.
"I think [Stephenson] was convicted of the crime he committed," said the victim's father, John Muskopf of Roanoke, who in the courtroom for yesterday's verdict.