Jury Convicts Murder Defendant 

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On Jan. 11, following a weeks-long trial and deliberation, a jury delivered a verdict for a homicide case in front of DC Superior Court Judge Robert Okun.

Mussye Rezene, 31, was convicted of first-degree premeditated murder while armed for his involvement in the death of 17-year-old Brayan Villatoro on Sept. 18, 2021, on the 1300 block of Nicholson Street, NW. Rezene was acquitted of possession of a firearm during a crime of violence and unlawful possession of a firearm by a prior convict. 

Throughout the trial, prosecutors argued that Rezene lured Villatoro to his death by setting him up a in a drug deal.

According to the prosecutors, Rezene used a burner phone to contact Villatoro in the weeks leading up to his death, and immediately stopped using the phone the night of the shooting. 

The evidence included conversations between the two where they discussed drugs, guns and meet ups; Rezene’s social media, and cell site data all put Rezene in the surrounding area of the homicide at the time of the shooting. Prosecutors insist the evidence proved his intent to kill, premeditation, deliberation, and willingness to ensure Villatoro’s death. 

Prosecutors insisted that, on the night of the murder, Rezene and his close friend and co-defendant in another homicide matter posted images on Instagram bragging about the killing, with both individuals including songs on their stories.

One was titled Murder, and the other had the words “rest in peace to all the opps, f**k them”. In Rezene’s post, which was displayed to the jury, the defendant added “you’re better off fu***n round wit Aids and cancer”. 

Throughout the jury’s deliberations, parties received multiple notes stating they were deadlocked, and couldn’t unanimously agree on verdicts for each charge. Judge Okun instructed the jury to continue deliberating and attempt to reach consensus. 

Rezene was ultimately convicted of the murder, and acquitted of all other charges. 

Parties are slated to return for sentencing March 22.

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