To many in the nation’s capital, Reginald Brighthart was invisible. Homeless. Unemployed. Addicted to drugs. A man few would notice as they passed on the streets.
It was Brighthart’s tragic plight, say prosecutors, that made him the target of two men who prosecutors say picked a fight with him early on the morning of April 7, 2003. They forced him into a bathroom in an abandoned apartment, shoved his head into a toilet and made him beg for his life before fatally shooting him in the head with a .40-caliber revolver.
On Wednesday morning in D.C. Superior Court, Alfred Evans, 28, of the District was sentenced to 47 years in prison after a jury found him guilty in April of first-degree felony murder and obstruction of justice in Brighthart’s killing.
This was Evans’s second trial in Brighthart’s slaying. He was granted a new trial after it was discovered that an exhibit that was excluded from evidence during his first trial was submitted to the jury during their deliberations.
During the trial, Assistant U.S. Attorney Deborah Sines told the jury that Evans, along with Frank Johnson, 31, attacked Brighthart, 35, in an apartment building in the 2800 block of Robinson Place SE. The two men dragged Brighthart down a stairwell and continued to beat him. They then gave Brighthart a towel and made him clean up his own blood in the hallway.
Sines, who also served as the prosecutor in Evans’s first trial in 2008, said the two men targeted Brighthart to “degrade” him because he was a known drug user.
Evans and Johnson, Sines said, then forced Brighthart into a bathroom, where they shot him. During the trial in April, Sines held up a poster-size photo that showed Brighthart’s lifeless body slumped over a toilet with his head inside the bowl and his body wrapped around the commode.
After Evans was arrested and charged in 2007, Sines said he placed phone calls from the D.C. jail to witnesses to the shooting in hopes of scaring them into not speaking to authorities.
Johnson was convicted in 2009 and sentenced to 48 years in prison.
In announcing her sentence, Judge Lynn Leibovitz could not hide her contempt for Evans and his targeting of Brighthart. Leibovitz said Brighthart was “tortured” and “beaten” because he used drugs.
“The reason [Brighthart] died is that in the world where crack cocaine rules, the life of a crackhead has no value, and so you decided that day, that the life of Reginald Brighthart had no value at all, that he could die and it wouldn’t matter,” Leibovitz said. “He begged for his life and you essentially told him his life with worthless.
“And that,” the judge added, “is what is the most horrible thing about this case.”