January 29, 2010 at 8:33 am EST | by Lou Chibbaro Jr.
Juvenile arrested for gay man’s murder

D.C. police have charged a 17-year-old male with first-degree felony murder while armed in connection with the Jan. 10 shooting death of gay Maryland resident Gordon Rivers.

Rivers, 47, a resident of Brandywine, Md., was found in the street suffering from multiple gunshot wounds in front of 2641 Naylor Road, S.E., at about 5:30 p.m. Jan. 10, according to a police statement released Thursday.

Police said they were withholding the identity of the suspect because he is a juvenile.

A spokesperson for the U.S. Attorney’s office said Friday the office would charge the juvenile as an adult. The spokesperson, Benjamin Friedman, said the identity of the youth would become public when he appears in court for an arraignment, which was expected Friday or Monday.

People who knew Rivers said he was a regular customer of the D.C. gay bar Bachelor’s Mill, located near the Washington Navy Yard.

Until the time of the juvenile’s arrest, police declined to disclose whether they had a suspect or a motive in the case. They said they had no evidence to indicate the case was a hate crime. Police circulated flyers with River’s photo to local gay groups and asked the LGBT community for help in their investigation into the murder.

The police statement didn’t disclose how investigators linked the 17-year-old to the murder. That information was expected to surface at the arraignment.

“We look at each case involving a juvenile defendant individually to determine whether we can or should charge the juvenile as an adult,” Friedman told DC Agenda. “Under Title 16 of the D.C. Code, juveniles that are 16 or 17 can be charged as an adult for certain crimes — armed carjacking, murder, armed robbery, sex offenses, etc.,” he said.

“Generally, if a gun is used and there is violence involved, we will charge the juvenile as an adult,” he said.

If the juvenile charged in the case were not prosecuted as an adult, under the city’s juvenile justice statute, all information about the outcome of the case would be withheld from the public, including whether he was convicted or acquitted in a juvenile court proceeding and what sentence, if any, he receives.

Lou Chibbaro Jr. has reported on the LGBT civil rights movement and the LGBT community for more than 30 years, beginning as a freelance writer and later as a staff reporter and currently as Senior News Reporter for the Washington Blade. He has chronicled LGBT-related developments as they have touched on a wide range of social, religious, and governmental institutions, including the White House, Congress, the U.S. Supreme Court, the military, local and national law enforcement agencies and the Catholic Church. Chibbaro has reported on LGBT issues and LGBT participation in local and national elections since 1976. He has covered the AIDS epidemic since it first surfaced in the early 1980s. Follow Lou

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