“There is absolutely nothing in your background to justify what you did,” Judge Dixon said. “I really wish you had walked away, or intervened to help.”
Prosecutors said Monday that Coates helped to kill a man over 30 years older than him during a fight for a cigarette. Studevant was found stabbed and strangled in a Northeast DC park on New Year’s Eve 2011. His death was ruled the first homicide of 2012.
“I just want to say I’m sorry for the family’s loss,” Coates said Monday. “It wasn’t supposed to be this way.”
On December 31, 2011 around 7:30 am police found Studevant dead on the 4200 block of Hunt Place Northeast. A medical examiner determined Studevant’s cause of death to be strangulation associated with piercing blunt force trauma; the death was ruled a homicide. More than a year later, Coates and his alleged accomplice, Alex Cater, were both arrested and held in suspicion of Studevant’s death.
Court documents state Studevant was killed in a dispute over a cigarette.
The morning of the murder, Coates, Cater and Studevant were walking down 42nd Street Northeast, when Cater got upset because Studevant would not give him a cigarette. Cater forced Studevant into a park nearby, Coates followed, and the two began beating Studevant.
During the assault, Studevant managed to break away and run across the park. Coates and Cater chased Studevant, and cornered him. Cater then pulled out a knife and stabbed Studevant. Cater gave the knife to Coates who also stabbed him. The two then continued to beat Studevant, kicking him while on the ground, documents state.
Documents state that Coates then removed the belt from Studevant’s waist and choked him with it until he no longer resisted.
Press release below
District Man Sentenced to 23-Year Prison Term For 2011 Strangling at Northeast Washington Park-Victim Was Stabbed, Choked and Robbed in Late-Night Attack-
WASHINGTON – Mark Coates, 28, of Washington, D.C., was sentenced today to a 23-year prison term on a charge of second-degree murder while armed for the slaying of a man at a park in Northeast Washington, U.S. Attorney Ronald C. Machen Jr. announced.
Coates pled guilty in July 2013 in the Superior Court of the District of Columbia. He was sentenced by the Honorable Herbert B. Dixon, Jr. Upon completion of his prison term, Coates will be placed on five years of supervised release.
According to the government’s evidence, between 11 p.m. on Friday, Dec. 30, 2011, and 1 a.m. on Saturday, Dec. 31, 2011, Coates and an accomplice forced the victim, Leroy Studevant, 56, into the Marvin Gaye Park in the 4200 block of Hunt Place NE, where they punched and kicked him.
During the assault, Mr. Studevant managed to escape, and he ran across the park. However, Coates and the accomplice chased Mr. Studevant through the park, until Coates ultimately cut off Mr. Studevant’s flight path. Using a knife, Coates and his accomplice then stabbed Mr. Studevant. After forcing Mr. Studevant to the ground, Coates and his accomplice kicked him, and Coates was able to unhook and remove Mr. Studevant’s belt from around his waist. The belt was placed around Mr. Studevant’s neck as a noose, and he was choked with the belt until he no longer resisted. During the altercation, a wallet and cell phone were removed from Mr. Studevant’s pockets. Coates and his accomplice split the money in the wallet.
An autopsy determined that Mr. Studevant died as a result of the strangling and assault in the park. The reason for the attack was because the victim would not share his cigarettes.
In announcing the sentence, U.S. Attorney Machen praised the work of the detectives, officers, and crime scene technicians who investigated the case for the Metropolitan Police Department. He also commended the efforts of those who worked on the case from the U.S. Attorney’s Office, including Paralegal Specialists Kendra Johnson, Ethel Nobel, Marian Russell, and Sandra Lane; Lead Paralegal Specialist Sharon Newman; Victim/Witness Advocate Tamara Ince; Victim Witness Security Specialist Katina Adams-Washington; Investigator Nelson Rhone; and Intelligence Specialists Lawrence Grasso, Zachary McMenamin, Shannon Alexis, and Sharon Johnson. Finally, U.S. Attorney Machen recognized the efforts of Assistant U.S. Attorney Kimberley Nielsen and Assistant U.S. Attorney Robert Feitel, who investigated and prosecuted the case.