“Aaron Thorpe, 33, and Melvin Knight, 36, both of Washington, D.C., were found guilty by a jury today of armed kidnapping and other charges stemming from an attack in which they held a man and woman for hours while searching a house in Northwest Washington for illegal drugs and cash, U.S. Attorney Ronald C. Machen Jr. announced.
The verdicts followed a trial in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia. The defendants were found guilty of armed kidnapping, armed burglary, a weapons offense, and related charges. The Honorable Richard J. Leon scheduled sentencing for Oct. 31, 2013. Thorpe and Knight, who are being held without bond pending sentencing, face up to 35 years in prison.
According to the government’s evidence, early Jan. 28, 2013, Thorpe and Knight lay in wait outside the home of the victim, who lived in the 6400 block of Kansas Avenue NW. They were armed with handguns and wearing ski masks and dark clothing. When the victim and his female friend approached the home, Thorpe and Knight emerged from behind a car, forced the victim and his friend against the wall of the home at gunpoint, and handcuffed them.
In the course of trying to handcuff the victim, who was resisting restraint, Knight discharged his firearm. A neighbor, hearing the gunshot, looked out a window and saw three men – the victim, Thorpe, and Knight. The neighbor described Thorpe and Knight as two men in masks and in all black, one with a shirt that had the word “POLICE” written across it. The neighbor saw the men force the victim into his home and clearly saw one of them holding a gun.
After the neighbor’s call to police, the Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) arrived on the scene and knocked on the door; no one responded. More units responded over the next few hours, including the department’s Emergency Response Team.
Meanwhile, once inside, Thorpe and Knight had forced the victim and his friend to the floor. The two defendants then bound their legs and mouths with duct tape, and began searching through the home for illegal narcotics and cash. They demanded that the victim tell them where to look, and threatened him and his friend, stating, “We’re not leaving any witnesses.”
While lying face down on the floor, fearing for his life and that of his friend, the victim saw one of the defendants’ guns on the floor. He was able to break his hands free and attempted to reach for the gun. At that point, one of the assailants jumped on him, beat him severely in the head and face with another gun, and threatened to kill the victim’s friend if he did not relent.
The male victim complied and the two defendants bound his hands with flexi-cuffs again.
The defendants later hid and/or attempted to destroy evidence of their crimes, unbound the victims, and threatened them to tell a false story to police about what had happened inside the home. Finally, at about 3:40 a.m., Thorpe and both victims walked out of the home; police officers then went in and located Knight upstairs. Both defendants were placed under arrest.
In announcing the verdicts, U.S. Attorney Machen commended the actions of the Metropolitan Police Department officers, detectives, and others who worked on the case. He also acknowledged the efforts of those who worked on the case from the U.S. Attorney’s Office, including Paralegal Specialists Candace Battle and Debra McPherson, Legal Assistant Tammy Scott, Intelligence Specialists Francis Morgan and Sharon Johnson, and intern Christopher Kaltsas. Finally, he commended the efforts of Assistant U.S. Attorneys Emory V. Cole and Brittain Shaw, who investigated and prosecuted the case.”