Six young men were sentenced Friday to a combined total of more than 100 years in prison; they had all pleaded guilty to killing 18-year-old Olijawon Griffin inside a Northwest DC metro station after robbing him and his friend.
“This is a tragic illustration of what happens when people arm themselves and rob innocent people,” Judge Ronna Beck said at sentencing. “Things go wrong and people die. Olijawon Griffin died trying to protect his best friend, Isaac Chase, who was being brutally attacked by these young men.”
Griffin was fatally stabbed inside the Woodley Park Metro Station on November 17, 2012.
The sentences were distributed based on the role each man played in Griffin’s death.
Chavez Myers was sentenced to 30 years in prison for first-degree felony murder, which was the maximum sentence under the plea agreement.
Muquan Cawthorne, who at 16 at the time of Griffin’s death was the youngest of the group, was sentenced to 17 years. Deon Jefferson was sentenced to 16 years and Greg Whittaker to 15. They were charged with voluntary manslaughter while armed.
According to a proffer of evidence in the case, witness testimonies and video footage from the scene, Myers was responsible for plunging the knife into Griffin’s chest that killed him. The others repeatedly punched and kicked Griffin and Chase. Cawthorne carried Jefferson’s gun for most of the night. Jefferson ended up with Griffin’s jacket, but he did not beat Griffin and Chase as much as Maye or Cawthorne. Swann did not brandish a weapon that night, but on the video footage he is heard taunting Griffin after he was stabbed.
At sentencing, Prosecutor Justin Dillon showed footage taken from the scene of Griffin’s beating death at Woodley Park metro station, identifying each defendant and his role in the death and robbery of Griffin.
The sentencing was emotional for family and friends of the men, who shared the courtroom benches with Griffin’s family and friends. As Beck described how she came to each sentence, family members and friends groaned and wept, some abruptly leaving the courtroom.
Griffin, who was 18 when he was killed, was just weeks away from beginning college and playing Division III football. He worked at the National Institutes of Health as a security guard as well as part-time at Five Guys.
Speaking after the sentencing Friday, Griffin’s mother, Lunette Griffin, said she was “very thankful” to see justice served.
“I’m very grateful,” she said.
Isaiah Gant, also charged with Griffin’s death, is scheduled for sentencing on Dec. 20.
Sentencing documents are being added to this post.