On July 19, 2015, two men were intoxicated and street racing at more than 100 MPH down 16th Street, NW. One of the drivers was 34-year-old Rasheed Murray. He lost control of his car and it landed on 24-year-old Matthew Roth’s vehicle. Roth was brought to a local hospital where he was pronounced braindead. Two days later, Roth was taken off life support and died.
Murray was charged with second-degree murder in relation to Roth’s death. In July 2018, he pleaded guilty to voluntary manslaughter, driving while under the influence and reckless driving. More than 30 people attended the Jan. 21 sentencing to support Roth and give victim impact statements.
Roth’s father was one of them. “2,376 days later we are finally here,” he said, “let us get some justice.”
Roth’s father attended every hearing in this case. He said having to “wait over six years for closure is inhumane and everyone in this system should be ashamed of themselves.”
A constant in the victim impact statements was the desire for Judge Milton Lee to impose the highest possible sentence. Most of the speakers agreed that the maximum sentence allowed for the charges was not enough. They also focused on who Roth was as a person and how much they truly missed him.
The prosecutor asked Judge Lee to take all of these statements into account but did not ask for a specific sentence. The court took a brief recess so that Murray’s defense attorney, Mani Golzari, could speak with his client.
Two people spoke on Murray’s behalf. The first was his childhood friend who said that “over the past six years he (Murray) has been anguished not with pity for himself but empathy for the Roth family.”
The next to speak was Murray’s former defense attorney, Jeffrey Stein, who said Murray has been “devastated with grief over the past six years and has remained completely sober since the crash.”
Golzari told Judge Lee “that he has to tell Murray that he must forgive himself or he will not survive and Murray has refused to do that believing that to be selfish.” Golzari also said he did not believe incarceration was an appropriate sentence for this case.
Murray also spoke. Through his statement, Murray cried while apologizing to the Roth parents and promising to atone for his crimes.
Judge Lee made a statement once all was said and done. He told Murray he is, “better than this, and that while you know it now, the shame is that you did not know it then.”
He went on to say that he is a big believer in second chances, telling Murray that he will have a life after this, though Roth will never get that.
Before sentencing Murray, Judge Lee expressed that no one will be happy with the sentence but he chooses it to the best of his ability, taking into account both parties’ thoughts. He also took full responsibility for the case taking six years.
Judge Lee imposed a sentence for the charge of voluntary manslaughter of two-and-a-half years followed by five years of supervised release with mandatory traffic court. This as well as 100 hours of community service and a $200 fee. He also sentenced Murray to 90 days each for reckless driving and DUI. These sentences will run concurrently with his manslaughter sentence.