Before Latisha Frazier was killed, she and the defendants charged with her death were friends. They hung out, and she brought them McDonald’s. But that was before Frazier was kidnapped. Punched. Stomped. Taped up. Gagged. Choked. And killed.
On Thursday, one of those friends, Johnnie Sweet, was sentenced for his role in the attack. His punishment: 52 years in prison.
“I’m not gonna sugarcoat it; I’m not gonna lie,” Sweet said Thursday at his sentencing hearing. “I was wrong.”
“The reason I didn’t cry at trial is because I knew I was gonna lose,” he said. “I went to trial to prove I didn’t do certain things. I apologize to the Frazier family and I apologize to my family. Hopefully one day y’all will forgive me. But if you don’t, I understand.”
Sweet, 19, was the only one of the defendants to stand trial. He was convicted in April of first-degree premeditated murder, first-degree felony murder, kidnapping and evidence tampering in connection with Frazier’s August 2010 beating death. Frazier was 18-years-old at the time she died. Her body has never been found.
At trial, Lanee Bell, who pleaded guilty to kidnapping Frazier, testified that Frazier’s beating was instigated and orchestrated by Sweet after he discovered $900 missing from his room.
Sweet told detectives that he suspected Frazier as the thief because “she was the only one in the room” moments before he realized the money was taken. Assistant U.S. Attorney Chris Kavanaugh said Thursday that other than claims that Frazier was in the room, there is no evidence she ever took the money.
Bell testified that on August 2, 2010, Sweet convinced her, Gaither and others to join him in attacking Frazier in the corner of a small bedroom in Sweet’s home. Frazier was beaten, stomped, taped, gagged and choked, before being tossed in a closet and left to die.
“What truly sets this case apart is the brutality and cruelty that was inflicted on Latisha Frazier,” Kavanaugh told the court. “This [killing] was prolonged. Everyone had the opportunity to say no.”
Later, Gaither and Antoine McCullough dragged Frazier’s body to a dumpster in the 1700 block of Trenton Place Southeast. Prosecutors believe it’s now in Shoosmith Landfill in Chesterfield County, Virginia.
Judge Canan said Thursday the disposal of Frazier’s body was “completely inhumane and lacks any human compassion.”
“You wanted it, you initiated it and you left her in your closet to die,” Canan said. “There was such a degree of cruelty and depravity that you should be held accountable.”
Members of Frazier’s family attended Sweet’s sentencing Thursday. They have attended every court hearing in connection with Frazier’s death. Barry Campbell, Frazier’s biological father, addressed the court.
“Mr. Sweet, for what you put our family through, I will eventually forgive. But right now, it’s hard to do so.”
Sentencing documents and a press release from the United States Attorney’s Office are below.
District Man Sentenced to 52 Years in Prison For First-Degree Felony Murder and Other Charges
In Killing of 18-Year-Old Latisha Frazier Defendant Among Seven People Convicted in Case
WASHINGTON – Johnnie Sweet, 19, of Washington, D.C., was sentenced today to 52 years in prison for first-degree felony murder and other charges in the August 2010 kidnapping and slaying of 18-year-old Latisha Frazier, announced U.S. Attorney Ronald C. Machen Jr. and Cathy L. Lanier, Chief of the Metropolitan Police Department (MPD).
Sweet was found guilty by a jury in April 2013, following a trial in the Superior Court of the District of Columbia, of first-degree felony murder with aggravating circumstances; first-degree premeditated murder with aggravating circumstances; kidnapping, and tampering with physical evidence. He was sentenced by the Honorable Russell F. Canan.
According to the government’s evidence, Sweet was one of the leaders of a group of six young men and women who took part in the murder of Ms. Frazier.
Ms. Frazier vanished on Aug. 2, 2010. For months, her family relentlessly sought to find her, passing out flyers and contacting local news stations to publicize her disappearance. In late January 2011, one witness finally stepped forward and contacted the Metropolitan Police Department, revealing the truth of Ms. Frazier’s whereabouts.
On the day of her disappearance, the government’s evidence showed, Ms. Frazier had been brutally murdered by a group of six young men and women (ages 16 to 23), all of whom she believed to be her friends. The group had suspected - with little evidence - that Ms. Frazier had stolen about $900 from Sweet. Sweet recruited others and exacted a plan of revenge in which they would call her over to an apartment where they claimed to be socializing.
When Ms. Frazier arrived at the apartment in the 1700 block of Trenton Place SE, the group took her to a small bedroom where Sweet and others punched, kicked, and stomped her all over her body. Ignoring her pleas for them to stop, they bound her in duct tape, taped a pillowcase over her head so she could not scream, and shoved her in a small, dark closet. When she screamed and moaned, one of the members of the group placed her in a sleeper hold to “put her to sleep.” Later, the group discovered that she had died.
To dispose of the body, Sweet helped carry her to the bathtub, where he and his friends attempted to dismember her. That evening, Ms. Frazier’s body was thrown into a dumpster, and it is now believed to be somewhere in one or two landfills in rural Virginia.
Of a total of seven people charged with various offenses, six former co-defendants have pled guilty. They include Brian Gaither, 25, who has been sentenced to a 32-year prison term after pleading guilty to first-degree murder; Laurence Kamal Hassan, 24, who has been sentenced to 18 years in prison for second-degree murder and kidnapping; Cinthya Proctor, 21, who has been sentenced to 21 years in prison for second-degree murder, kidnapping and conspiracy to commit evidence tampering; Anneka Nelson, 19, who pled guilty to second-degree murder and kidnapping; Lanee Bell, 20, who pled guilty to kidnapping, and Antoine McCullough, 27, who pled guilty to conspiracy to commit evidence tampering. Bell, Nelson and McCullough are awaiting sentencing.
In announcing the sentence, U.S. Attorney Machen and Chief Lanier praised the work of those who investigated the case for the Metropolitan Police Department (MPD), including detectives from the Major Case/Cold Case Squad and the Seventh District.
They also expressed appreciation for the efforts of those who handled the case for the U.S. Attorney’s Office, including Larry Grasso of the Criminal Intelligence Unit, Victim/Witness Advocate Marcia Rinker, and Paralegal Specialists Kwasi Fields, Phaylyn Hunt, and Angela Lawrence. Finally, they thanked Assistant U.S. Attorneys Christopher R. Kavanaugh and Melinda Williams, who prosecuted the case.