One of the six young people suspected in the death of missing DC teen Latisha Frazier has filed a motion to sever his case from his codefendants’ case.
In the motion, filed Jan. 13, Brian Gaither claims that if his case remains joined with Johnnie Sweet, Sweet’s statement to police will prejudice the case against Gaither and that Sweet will be acting as a “second prosecutor” to Gaither.
Authorities believe Frazier was the victim of a brutal attack by six people. According to court documents, the 18-year-old was beaten, stomped, bound, taped, gagged, prodded and choked. Her head was covered with a sheet. Tossed into a closet, she finally died. Her body was thrown into a dumpster and hasn’t been found, though it’s believed to be in a landfill.
Gaither and Sweet are each charged with first degree felony murder, first degree premeditated murder, and “aggravating circumstances.” Those circumstances are that Frazier’s death was “especially heinous, atrocious, and cruel” and that it was also “committed during the course of a kidnapping.” They have both pleaded innocent.
The motion to sever states:
According to government discovery, it alleges that Mr. Sweet believed that Ms. Frazier stole money from him in the summer of 2010. Mr. Sweet, the government alleges, devised a plan to lure Ms. Frazier to his apartment so that they could physically punish her. Mr. Sweet devised this plan with his brother Laurence Hassan and some of his friends, Mdmes. Proctor, Nelson and Bell. The government contends that Ms. Frazier came to the apartment at Mr. Sweet’s invitation and that the five individuals, along with Brian Gaither, assaulted her. The government asserts that at some point, Ms. Frazier lost consciousness and was gagged. The government believes that Ms. Frazier died from the restraints or from a chokehold prior to restraint.
Mr. Sweet and Mr. Gaither both made statements to Metropolitan Police Detectives. Mr. Sweet’s statement involves Mr. Gaither’s and alletes that Mr. Gaither was present and actively participating in all of the aspects of this crime.
The information available to undersigned counsel indicates that Mr. Sweet’s defense will attempt to exonerate him by pointing an accusing finger at Mr. Gaither. Because Mr. Sweet’s defense will attempt to portray Mr. Gaither as the primary actor in this incident, a substantial danger exists that the evidence and arguments presented by Mr. Sweet would provide the basis of the jury’s conviction of Mr. Gaither.
Hassan and Proctor have each pleaded guilty to second-degree murder in connection with the case.
Bell, though MPD announced that she was arrested on suspicion of felony murder, has not been charged with murder. Court records indicate that she was charged with kidnapping in January and pleaded innocent.
If convicted, Gaither and Sweet face life sentences without the possibility of parole. In November Prosecutor Chris Kavanaugh said there are no plea discussions in the cases.
A trial is set for Nov. 2012.