Manslaughter Defendant’s Progress Acknowledged During Sentencing

A DC Superior Court judge sentenced a defendant to serve a total of 14 years for one manslaughter charge and two assault charges.

“In the future, I strive to be a better citizen that gives back to the community,” defendant Juan Kibler said during his Oct. 1 sentencing hearing.

Kibler, 31, was initially charged with second-degree murder while armed in the stabbing of 40-year-old Joseph Harris on the 2300 block of Green Street, SE, on May 7, 2018. The defendant was arrested 10 days later.

The following July, he was sent to St. Elizabeths Hospital, DC’s psychiatric institution. He was charged with aggravated assault knowingly after getting into an altercation with a staff member who was knocked unconscious, D.C. Witness previously reported.

After making a deal with the prosecution, Kilber resolved these cases by pleading guilty to voluntary manslaughter while armed in connection with Harris’ death and aggravated assault knowingly in connection with the incident at St. Elizabeths Hospital.

Judge Marisa Demeo sentenced the defendant to eight years for the manslaughter charge and six years for the assault charge.

Kilber also pleaded guilty to simple assault in a separate misdemeanor case he picked up in 2020. The 75-day sentence for that charge will run concurrent to the other two sentences.

“Mr. Kibler has had a long struggle with mental health and has benefitted from consistent health services and medication,” defense attorney Joseph Wong said during the Oct. 1 hearing. “I have seen a remarkable degree of progress. I think the sentence agreed by both parties is appropriate. The sentence is setting Kipler up with what he needs to make something with his life.”

Judge Demeo said Kibler has become more stable and, if he stays committed to his mental health treatment, he will reenter society as a better person. 

Two of the victim’s brothers spoke at the sentencing. Both said they forgive Kibler for his actions. 

“We all do wrong, but we have to make it right,” one of the brothers said.