Man Who Murdered Catholic Univ. Student, Neil Godleski, in Sherman Circle Sentenced to 42 Years in Prison


Neil Godleski

From MPD:

Eric Foreman, 19, of Washington, D.C., was sentenced today to 42 years in prison on first-degree premeditated murder while armed and other charges stemming from a shooting he committed in August 2010 in the Sherman Circle area of Northwest Washington, U.S. Attorney Ronald C. Machen Jr. announced.

Foreman was found guilty by a jury in September 2012, following a trial in the Superior Court of the District of Columbia. The jury also convicted him of charges of felony murder attempted robbery while armed, attempted robbery, and related firearms offenses. The verdict included a finding of two aggravating circumstances: that the murder involved a random shooting, and that it occurred during the course of an attempted robbery. Foreman was sentenced this afternoon by the Honorable Robert E. Morin.

According to the government’s evidence presented at trial, the homicide occurred at about 12:30 a.m. on Aug. 22, 2010, near the intersection of Kansas Avenue and Sherman Circle NW. The victim, Neil Godleski, 31, was a student attending Catholic University, trying to complete the degree he had started there when younger. Mr. Godleski had just finished working a shift as a waiter at a restaurant in Southwest Washington and was pedaling home on his bicycle when he approached Sherman Circle in the bicycle lane.

Foreman was walking with a group of teenage friends on the opposite side of the street when Mr. Godleski came by in the bicycle lane. Suddenly, without any warning or yelling or even a demand, Foreman emerged from the group and fired five shots as Mr. Godleski pedaled by. None of the shots hit Mr. Godleski, and Foreman began to walk off. Mr. Godleski, however, fell off his bicycle. Foreman then turned and approached Mr. Godleski, getting closer than arm’s reach. The defendant then shot Mr. Godleski at close enough range that the firearm left a deposit of soot on Mr. Godleski’s arm. While the defendant and his friends ran off, Mr. Godleski struggled across the street and collapsed on top of his bicycle inside of Sherman Circle.

Continues after the jump.

Foreman was later heard saying that he had taken $60 and that he had shot Mr. Godleski for not giving up the money quickly enough, and explaining that he told the victim it was easy, “like butter, baby.” He was also heard saying that he shot Mr. Godleski because he was mad about the unrelated murder of a friend of his earlier in the summer. The evidence at trial also showed that in the hours before the murder, Foreman had expressed anger at the failure of a friend to kill a passing rival when shooting at him, complaining that “we should have never gave it [the gun]” to his friend, and that Foreman thereafter made an effort to retrieve that gun (which became the murder weapon used on Mr. Godleski) while talking about wanting to make a “move.”

“Neil Godleski was a kind, hard-working college student who was gunned down when biking home from his job waiting tables,” said U.S. Attorney Machen. “His murder was beyond senseless. It was borne of a complete absence of the barest shred of human compassion. Forty-two years in prison is fitting a sentence for this cruel display of evil.”

In announcing the sentence, U.S. Attorney Machen praised the work of the Metropolitan Police Department, including homicide detectives, mobile crime officers, and firearms examiners. Mr. Machen additionally commended the efforts of those who assisted at the U.S. Attorney’s Office, including Paralegals Marian Russell, Brendan Tracz, and Koryn High; Marcey Rinker of the Victim Witness Assistant Unit; and Leif Hickling of the Litigation Services unit. He also thanked Assistant U.S. Attorneys Chrisellen Kolb, Elizabeth Danello, and Elizabeth Trosman of the Appellate Section, who assisted with trial issues as the case proceeded through trial.

Finally, he thanked Assistant U.S. Attorney Stephen J. Gripkey, who indicted and tried the case, and Assistant U.S. Attorney Adrienne Dedjinou, who also tried the case.

39 Comment

  • Revel: Great news! Though life in prison would have been nice. That event haunts me to this day living so nearby and seeing the circle every day, and wishing it never happened. Glad DC shut down the DYRS house near there, what a difference not having such violent folks in the neighborhood.

  • This is exactly what the death penalty is for.

    Instead we will spend a few million dollars giving this man a cot and 3 meals a day until he is 61. Then, we will release a 61 year old codger onto the streets, a man who has never functioned on his own, and he will simply find the quickest way back into the system by knocking off someone else.

    • typically the death penalty is more expensive.
      crazy huh?

      • While I am not for the death penalty myself, it is possible to imagine a world where society does not waste millions of dollars on legal appeals for capital convictions. Throughout most of human history people were simply taken out back and disposed of. Again I am not pro death penalty, but I do recognize the validity of the point that we will be paying lots of money for the upkeep of this murderer and that that is somewhat odd.

        While this is not the time and place for a discussion of crime and punishment in America when we do have one it should be civil and with an open imagination. It’s definitely something we can improve.

        RIP Neil.

    • PDMtP

      Yep. Lots of 61-year-old muggers out there. And I’m sure this kid was weighing the sentences carefully, so keeping him in jail until he’s 80 would have made a big difference over keeping him in jail until he’s 61.

      Not defending the criminal. Just questioning whether I get a lot of bang for my tax buck from incarcerating the elderly.

      • again, think about Neil. 16 year old punk, who thinks nothing of life. Who cares what his background is. He should know whats right from wrong. This is what parents, teachers, neighbors, elders, teach us. At least one of those was around to guide this low life.

        He kills an innocent man, working his way through a college degree, and he gets to be free at the age of 60. I don’t mind my tax dollars keeping this filth in jail, thinking about what he did till his day’s end. Thats the choice he made, sorry but would you rather your tax dollars supporting this uneducated person with zero skills at the age of 60 on the streets. You wanna be a thug, live the tuff life. The take all that comes with it. A horrendous crime. This is why I cross the street when I see a group of black teens, this is why I have no tollarance for this BS in this city. Complete and utter disrespect without harsh consequenses.

        Because of this punk there is a set of parents without a son, a young man who never got to live the rest of his life, friends missing his company. Sit in jail Eric, DC doesn’t benefit with you on the streets at age 16 or 60.

        • I have to appologize, I read what I wrote and don’t want people to get the wrong impression as saying I cross the street when I see “black teens” I wrote this quick and am just heated how terrible the shooting was and was a little emotional. Being in this city for sometime there definitley warnings signs when I see groups of teens. Thats all I meant

  • why no life in prison,

    The fact that this low life might have the chance to walk in his mid sixties digusts me. I had heard the story of Neil but to hear the account is chilling. This kid should never see the day of light again. My only hope is somebody this digusting will get in trouble over and over in prison and spend his life there.

    RIP Neil.. terrrible, sad story

  • I am not one to push for higher sentences for certain categories of crimes, but to NOT give this guy a life sentence is absolutely disgraceful. He’ll be out of jail at age 60, probably a lot sooner, while his victim’s life was cut short. This was, importantly, not a product of a plea agreement, but rather a sentencing after trial. A person without any trace of humanity like this perpetrator is not someone we should be trying to rehabilitate. He is a sociopath, and he should never see the light of day again (which is, sadly, his victim’s fate). I can think of no mitigating circumstances here which would indicate that anything short of a life sentence is appropriate. Unbelievable.

  • Agree–42 years is too short. “People” like Foreman don’t deserve to be released, ever.

    • Exactly. This is not a human being we are dealing with.

      • Sadly, human beings do actually murder. It’s very easy to disregards a persons humanity when they act so destructively. But we are all humans and should remember that even the worst among us represent our humanity.

  • T

    I am glad he was convicted and sentenced and that there is now some resolution for Mr. Godleski’s family, but I too agree that this sentence was too short.

    Another commenter got it right when he said that this crime is chilling. It was chilling when it happened and even more so when the public found out about the specific circumstances.

  • I’d like to hear from Foreman’s family — the people who raised this lunatic. Personally, I don’t believe that a parent or parents have zero responsibility for their child.

    • The shooter was 19 and an adult, not a kid.

      • He was 16 at the time of the shooting. Contrary to what’s been posted here, he was human. That he was high-risk is indisputable. That he never had a chance given his lot in life is debatable (but not here today).

        “Eric Foreman fell through the porous cracks of D.C.’s juvenile justice system. He came from a family that knew violence. His father was killed on the Bruce Monroe School basketball court. His brothers, John “Baby J” and Maurice, joined violent crews to avenge their father’s death. Both are in jail, Baby J for murder. Eric has followed their path.

        When the 16-year-old shot Neil Godleski off his bike and killed him at close range, he was a ward of the city’s Department of Youth Rehabilitative Services. He was staying at Dupree House, then a halfway house in Petworth that has since closed. Dupree House was known as a filthy place with scarce counseling and open doors…”

        Recommended background read:
        http://washingtonexaminer.com/jaffe-d.c.s-juvenile-justice-system-shares-blame-for-murder/article/2507675#.UM9ajuQ0V8E

        RIP Neil.

        • Executing an innocent man biking home from work for sport demonstrates a profound lack of humanity. And his “lot in life” does not mitigate his actions.

  • I was just thinking about Neil this morning on the bus. He was one of the first friendly people I met when I moved to DC. I’m thankful to have been friends with him many years ago. I’m sorry, but not surprised this sentence wasn’t longer.

    • right on aj. I met him a few times at the looking glass and he even invited me to his house to an after party one night. I was totally shocked to hear about his passing.To this day I’m still very sad. he was a good guy. RIP my friend.

  • RIP Neil. The POS that did this should have got life in the pen.

  • Dear PoP:

    I have a suggestion for an interesting follow up to this news. Could you interview Machem and Morin and get their perspective about the case and in particular the sentence that was handed down?

  • Thanks PoPs. Thanks for honoring the victim in your post, and thanks for reporting the details of how this awful crime occurred, which I had not previously known and was curious about. This is very good news.

  • RIP, and renewed condolences to the family

  • First degree murder is our most serious crime and I think warrants a life sentence. This is particularly true where the guy seems to have showed no remorse and probably also played a role in offing his buddy that they thought would be a witness.

  • I don’t understand why he (or really, it… I don’t think of anyone like this as human but as a thing) doesn’t get executed for doing this. The death penalty is expensive because we let the cost skyrocket. Easy solution here – now that it has been convicted, take it to a gallows or a brick wall and hang it or shoot it with a firing squad – those two options worked remarkably well for hundreds of years. Then put the body in a truck, take it to the Fort Totten trash dump, and leave it there. Quick, clean, efficient, and certainly justice done.

    • If we only didn’t have that damn Constitution to get in the way of implementing your plan.

      “Easy solution here – now that it has been convicted, take it to a gallows or a brick wall and hang it or shoot it with a firing squad – those two options worked remarkably well for hundreds of years. ”

      These options did work remarkably well. For tyrant dictators like Saddam Hussein. We don’t do this because we strive to be better than the criminal we’re punishing. And because sometimes the cops make mistakes and hanging or shooting a wrongfully convicted person is difficult to reverse.

  • Sorry, unless “with no possibility of parole” is included in this sentencing, this is not good news.

    • Agreed, sentencing for taking someone’s life in DC is so weak, esp all the second degree cases where kids get only 15 years. In this case, if this guy gets parole and is out in his 30s, the real danger to society is the judge and parole board!

    • We don’t have parole in DC. He has to serve at least 85% of his sentence, which would be 35 years. He’ll be at least in his fifties before he gets out.

  • this guy executed a college student and only gets 42 years….what is freaking wrong with this sytem…he will be out in his 60s…this kid should never see light…time and time again dc judicial system dissapoints

  • He’ll be out in 25 years, so he’ll be released into a world he doesn’t recognize, at the age 44 but with the development of a 19-year old (if not younger) and unemployable. In a way, it is a life sentence, if not the one people want.

    • Getting out of jail at the age of 44 is not a life sentence. The point is that he’ll have the opportunity to rob and murder again which is likely what he’ll do as soon as he gets out.

  • Hack nude pics of ScarJo, 10 years in the pen for the horny nerd.
    http://laist.com/2012/12/17/scarlett_johanssons_nude_photo_hack.php

    This poor kid is killed ruthlessly and gets 42 years.

  • America has the harshest criminal sentencing in the First World.

    And yet we clamor for even harsher penalties. As if making the USA the world’s #1 jailer by a *larger* margin would somehow make things better.

    • I (and am sure others) do not advocate for harsher sentences, plural. There are a large variety of sentences I believe should be reduced, particularly drug sentences, which account for the mast majority of Americans in prison.

      But THIS sentence was too lenient. There is almost no place in the country outside of D.C. where first degree murder, who refused to plead guilty / accept responsibility, and with no mitigating circumstances, would not warrant, at a minimum, a life sentence. This particular sentence is simply pathetic. How do you think the victim’s family will feel when their son / brother / cousin etc. is still dead, but this vile individual is free to live basically the remaining half of his life? This is not a person who can be rehabilitated, I’d suggest, the odds are certainly against it. I’m all for lower sentences for most categories of (non-violent) crime, but for violent assault and murder, it’s Europe, etc. who are off base in their sentencing practices, not the US.

  • While I”m not in favor of the death penalty, I don’t think anybody sentenced to prison should just sit there. Forced labor is certainly the way to go. Might as well put people to use instead of just rotting inside a cell.

  • This murder still gives me chills

    I’m happy this kid’s life is effectively over…

Comments are closed.