Prosecutors Deem Homicide Defendant a ‘Vicious, Violent Man’ at Sentencing

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On March 22, DC Superior Court Judge Robert Okun sentenced a homicide defendant to 45 years of incarceration. 

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. 

According to prosecutors, Rezene lured Villatoro to an alley for his execution during a drug deal gone wrong. 

During the sentencing hearing, prosecutors discussed Rezene’s violent past, stating that his intensely violent actions began in 2010 and have continued during his incarceration. 

According to prosecutors, Rezene has multiple violent outstanding cases, which include charges of accessory after the fact and tampering with evidence in a multi-homicide case, and a first-degree murder charge for his alleged involvement in the fatal stabbing of an inmate at the DC Jail in October of 2023, among others. 

His criminal history includes a 2017 stabbing of another inmate at the DC Jail. However, Jonathan Zucker, Rezene’s defense attorney, argued that conviction had been reversed by the Court of Appeals and downgraded to a misdemeanor. 

In their arguments, prosecutors deemed Rezene an “unrepentant criminal,” adding that he lacks remorse and is a “vicious, violent man.” 

They played multiple videos in court, which depicted an individual identified as Rezene stabbing 34-year-old Darrow Johnson multiple times on the head, in a physical therapy room at the jail. Johnson, who was accused of a murder, succumbed to his injuries days after the attack.

Another video, which portrayed a Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) officer’s body-worn camera footage from one of Rezene’s arrests, depicted an individual identified as Rezene pushing a young child out of his way as he attempted to elude officers. A wooden door crushed the child’s hand as Rezene slammed the door. 

Prosecutors insisted Judge Okun “take him out of society and keep him out of [it],” stating that he sees criminal activity as a “game,” and does anything to ensure he and his associates “remain above the law.”

The prosecution also delivered a statement written by Villatoro’s sister, who stated Rezene’s actions changed her family’s lives forever, adding “you took away our pride and joy”. 

Through her statement, the sister requested Judge Okun sentence Rezene to the maximum penalty, stating that Villatoro was “still a child with so much life left in him.”

“Deep down, I wish you nothing but the worst,” she added. 

The prosecutors argued Rezene is part of a group of associates who “glorify violence” and pledge allegiance to “The Drop Squad “(DS) “Tuff Real Understanding” (TRU), and “Real Money Getters” (RMG). 

“Violence is the way of their lives,” they insisted, adding that his rap lyrics prove he’s a dangerous individual and brags of his violent activities. 

Lyrics such as “You want a headshot, but I aim at the neck,” “You ain’t Drop Squad if you ain’t a killer,” and, “When I’m back from the pen I’m back in the mix,” were displayed to the court. Prosecutors argued the lyrics support a rumor that Rezene is a contract killer. 

“Punish him for it,” said prosecutors, as they asked Judge Okun to impose a 50 year sentence. 

However, Zucker requested Judge Okun sentence him for the crime he was convicted of, not the allegations, arguing the “[prosecution] tried to infect this case consistently” with rumors. 

Zucker also argued that, in most of what the prosecution claims were violent acts, Rezene was acting in self-defense. 

He asked for 30 years of incarceration, stating that when Rezene gets out in his 60s he “won’t be violent.” 

Zucker also added that Rezene maintains his innocence in this case. 

Judge Okun stated, “There is no doubt that this was premeditated, calculated, and extremely cold blooded.” 

He added that it is “clear as day,” that Rezene killed Johnson in jail, stating he has seen Rezene involved in multiple cases and violent acts. 

“He really, really is a dangerous and violent person,” Judge Okun insisted. He imposed a sentence of 45 years of incarceration, with five years of supervised release. 

No further dates were set in this matter. 

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