Homicide Victim’s Family Speaks During Sentencing

Rufus Davis‘ relatives implored a DC Superior Court judge to impose the maximum sentence for the man convicted of killing their family member.

On Oct. 6, 2021, Davis was found on the Unit Block of O Street, NW, suffering from gunshot wounds to the head and back. The 20-year-old was pronounced dead at a local hospital. Marcha Johnson was arrested a week later and charged with second-degree murder while armed. 

The 44-year-old defendant pleaded down to voluntary manslaughter while armed, which has a maximum penalty of 30 years in prison, as part of an agreement with prosecutors. The plea deal includes an agreement between parties not to request an upward or downward departure from the DC Sentencing Commission’s voluntary sentencing guidelines as they apply to the defendant.

Multiple members of the victim’s family spoke during the April 5 sentencing. A letter from the victim’s grandmother was read aloud in court. She was unable to attend her grandson’s funeral due to mobility issues.

“He didn’t deserve to die the way he did,” she stated in the letter, which concluded with her “begging for justice.”

Davis’ cousins spoke in court about the kind of person he was and how his death has affected them. One of them spoke about how he always wanted to travel. “He was always a good spirit,” she said.

The victim’s father told the court his son was just about to turn 21 years old.

“I did everything I could to protect him from that day,” he said.

One of Davis’ cousins said “nothing could suffice,” in reference to Johnson’s sentence. Davis’ father echoed that sentiment, saying “No amount of time is going to bring my son back.”

“I just want justice for my son,” he continued. “I feel like I let my son down, let my family down.”

The prosecutor asked Judge Robert Okun to pass an 18-year sentence, citing the defendant’s criminal history and video footage from the homicide that shows the defendant shooting Davis point-blank.

When given the opportunity to address the court, Johnson said, “I want to apologize to the family.”

Defense attorney Wole Falodun said her client is remorseful and hopes that the family can forgive him one day. He told the court that the victim and the defendant had a contentious relationship, as Davis had allegedly threatened to take Johnson’s life in the past. Falodun said Johnson is in a tough spot mentally and asked for the court’s mercy. 

Judge Okun sentenced Johnson to 15 years in prison to be followed by five years of supervised release. Having seen the video footage, he said the crime was brutal and heinous. In deciding on a sentence, Judge Okun said he considered both the nature of the offense and Johnson’s criminal history.

Johnson has had 10 prior convictions, most of which were for felonies, Judge Okun said. He mentioned that Davis was unarmed and the video footage did not show him instigating anything.

Judge Okun told the defendant to think about his life once he gets out and to make the best of it.

“For your sake and the community’s sake I hope you are successful,” he said.

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