Trial Review: Man Convicted of Second-Degree Murder for Stabbing Woman with Screwdriver

After seven days of trial proceedings, a jury convicted Robert Dean of second-degree murder while armed for stabbing a woman with a screwdriver. The jury was unable to reach a unanimous verdict on the charge of first-degree murder while armed.

At approximately 4:58 p.m. on March 31, 2018, Tamiya White drove into a McDonald’s parking lot on the 1900 block of 9th Street, NE, according to court documents. She entered the lobby holding her neck. A witness who called 911 said she pleaded for an ambulance and appeared to be bleeding heavily from her mouth, nose and neck. Approximately 30 minutes after she had pulled into the parking lot, the 38-year-old was pronounced dead. 

The doctor who performed White’s autopsy determined she sustained a stab wound to the left side of her neck and the left side of her chest, according to court documents. The doctor noted that her wounds appeared to have been caused by a weapon consistent with a Phillips-head screwdriver.

Dean, 63, was arrested less than one week after White’s death. 

Dean’s attorneys, Anthony Matthews and Jonathan Armstrong, argued their client acted in self-defense, with one of them calling White a “200-pound screwdriver wielding psychotic on PCP.”

White tested positive for the drug PCP, a dissociative hallucinogen, in her autopsy. During the trial, a professor of systems pharmacology at the University of Pennsylvania with expertise in toxicology testified that the methodology of tracing PCP in Tamiya White’s blood was accurate. The results also showed she had traces of cocaine in her system, the professor said. 

During opening arguments, Matthews said the DNA swabs of the alleged murder weapon suggest it belonged to the victim. 

The prosecution called a long-time friend of Dean’s to the witness stand during the second day of the trial. He said he received a text from the defendant reading, “I feel that I am about to go to jail,” on the day of the homicide. When the witness later picked Dean up, he said the defendant told him he stabbed a woman after she hit him in the face.

Text messages between Dean and White were admitted into evidence. In the messages, Dean was upset that she apparently kicked him out of her apartment, despite having paid her $450 for rent, D.C. Witness previously reported.

The prosecution also called a neighbor who took Dean in after the stabbing to the witness stand. The witness said he and his wife were unaware of the incident when they let him into their home.

On Nov. 5, a jury found Dean guilty of second-degree murder while armed. He is scheduled to be sentenced Feb. 4. Judge Marisa Demeo gave his attorneys 30 days to motion for a new trial.

On May 5, 2022, Dean was sentenced to 25 years in prison.

Read D.C. Witness’ timeline of this case.

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