A Virginia man was found guilty Monday of the fatal beating and stabbing of his mother’s boyfriend in the District. Two of the man’s friends were also found guilty of murder in the case.
After about two days of deliberations, a D.C. Superior Court jury found Theodore “Reggie” Spencer, 22, and his friends Phillip Swan, 21, and Terrell Wilson, 20, guilty of first-degree murder and other offenses in the June 19, 2011, death of Glenn Scarborough, 61.
Defense attorneys never disputed that Spencer killed Scarborough. Instead, they argued that Spencer, believing Scarborough had abused his mother repeatedly over a decade, “snapped” before he bound him and left him to die in his basement apartment in Northeast’s Trinidad neighborhood.
Attorneys for Swan and Wilson said their clients only wanted to help their friend protect his mother from an abusive boyfriend.
In testimony earlier this month, Spencer told the jury he went into a rage as he recalled how his mother would visit his grandparents’ home in Orange County, Va., where he was raised, her eyes black and swollen, her arms bruised, and her chest and legs burned in a fire.
He also related stories of how Scarborough hooked Sharon Spencer, 43, on crack cocaine, and how he raped her during a six-month battle with cancer, giving her a sexually transmitted disease that aggravated her illness.
But prosecutors argued that Reggie Spencer, a mixed martial arts expert, and his friends had always planned to kill Scarborough. He wanted to avenge her, they argued, because of his memories and information about her life obtained from his grandmother and other family members.
Prosecutors challenged many of his recollections. They argued that Sharon Spencer had no sexually transmitted disease, that there was no evidence of a rape, and that his mother had accidentally caused the fire that left her severely burned in 2002. The bruises Reggie Spencer saw on his mother, prosecutors argued, were likely obtained during her years of work as a prostitute on the District’s streets.
No DNA or eyewitnesses linked the men to the killing. Weeks after Scarborough died, detectives got a break when Swan sent a text message to a friend that outlined the attack. His friend kept the text messages and forwarded them to police.
Defense attorneys had hoped the jury would return convictions on lesser charges, such as manslaughter, after their clients rejected plea bargains offered by prosecutors.
As the verdicts were read, family members of the men sitting in the audience wiped away tears. So did one juror. Outside the courtroom, the juror said she “felt sorry” for the men but nevertheless voted to convict them.
Spencer, Swan and Wilson were convicted of offenses including murder, robbery and kidnapping. The jury, composed of four men and eight women, found the attack “especially heinous, atrocious and cruel,” according to a form on which they recorded their votes.
Each man faces a maximum sentence of life in prison. They are scheduled to be sentenced on Dec. 19 by Judge Thomas J. Motley.