A D.C. woman admitted in court Thursday that she fatally stabbed and robbed a lawyer in an upscale hotel after answering an online ad he had posted seeking sex with a man.
Jamyra Gallmon, 21, pleaded guilty to second-degree murder in the Feb. 9 killing of David Messerschmitt, who worked at the international law firm DLA Piper. He was found dead in a room at the Donovan Hotel at Thomas Circle, stabbed repeatedly in the abdomen, groin and heart, police said.
During the hearing in D.C. Superior Court, Assistant U.S. Attorney Shana Fulton said Gallmon, plotting a robbery, tricked Messerschmitt into thinking she was a man, even e-mailing him a photo of a man’s torso. Gallmon brought zip ties that could be used to bind Messerschmitt and a small knife, prosecutors said.
Police have said Messerschmitt was in the hotel room when Gallmon arrived and had texted his wife that he would return to their Capitol Hill home in about an hour.
Gallmon's roommate and alleged girlfriend, Dominique Johnson, 19, also of the District, pleaded guilty to a charge of conspiracy to commit robbery for her role in events on the day of the murder, officials said.
Messerschmitt’s widow, Kim Vuong, sat in the front row of the courtroom next to a victim’s advocate with the U.S. attorney’s office. As new, gruesome details about the death of her husband emerged, she briefly broke into muted sobs.
Both defendants said little during the hearing. Each answered repeatedly with one word when the judge asked a question regarding what the prosecutor outlined as the details of the crime.
“Is that what happened?” the judge asked about the sequence of events.
“Yes,” Gallmon said.
“Yes,” Johnson said.
“When he fought back, you stabbed him seven times?” the judge asked.
“Yes,” Gallmon said.
The case was marked by an emotional plea from Vuong, who in March tearfully asked the public for help finding her husband’s assailant.
Prosecutors said the incident began at 7:44 p.m., when Gallmon entered the hotel. Johnson waited outside and wore a hooded sweatshirt to hide her identity. Once inside the room, as Gallmon tried to rob Messerschmitt, he fought back.
Gallmon then stabbed Messerschmitt seven times, including a thrust in the chest that cut through his heart. He had stab wounds to his left hand that indicated he tried to fight off his attacker.
By accepting the guilty plea, prosecutors ensured that details of Messerschmitt’s life would be kept confidential. Prosecutors also agreed not to add charges against Gallmon and Johnson.
While not a part of the murder, Fulton said Johnson “knew of the deceitful e-mail correspondence” with Messerschmitt. Fulton said that shortly after their arrests, both Gallmon and Johnson “expressed interest” in accepting responsibility for the crime. “We believed it would be in the best interest of justice to allow them to do so,” she said after the hearing.
After the attack, prosecutors said, Gallmon ran from the hotel and met Johnson. Gallmon had stolen about $40 from the victim and his Metro SmarTrip card, which they used minutes after the attack on a District bus.
After Johnson’s arrest, Johnson told authorities that Gallmon had stolen the money and SmarTrip card. Johnson at first denied that she helped Gallmon, according to the affidavit in her case.
Gallmon has been in the D.C. jail since her arrest. Marshals escorted Gallmon in shackles into the courtroom. Johnson, who had been released from jail, initially sat with her family but stood next to Gallmon and their attorneys once the case was called.
Gallmon had told detectives, according to a court affidavit, that when she arrived at Messerschmitt’s room he grabbed her arm, causing a flashback to a time when she had been assaulted. She acknowledged that she pulled a knife from her sweatpants, stabbed Messerschmitt, and took his cash and SmarTrip card, according to court papers. Her attorney told a judge at her initial hearing that the attack was a case of “imperfect self-defense.”
Johnson’s attorney said his client was attending college and was meeting the requirements as part of her weekly check-ins with pretrial services, including drug tests, which have been negative.
Vuong declined to comment, as did members of Gallmon’s and Johnson’s families.