August 23, 2018 at 7:18 am EDT | by Lou Chibbaro Jr.
2nd arrest made in D.C. murder of lesbian found in burning car
Ashton Briscoe, gay news, Washington Blade, Kerrice Lewis

Ashton Briscoe was arrested in February and charged with first-degree murder in the shooting death of lesbian Kerrice Lewis. A second man, Marcel Vines of D.C., was arrested this week in the murder. (Photo courtesy P.G. County State’s Attorney’s Office)

D.C. police on Wednesday announced they have arrested a second suspect in the Dec. 28, 2017 shooting death of lesbian Kerrice Lewis, 23, whose body was found in the trunk of her burning car in an alley off of the 800 block of Adrian Street in Southeast Washington.

Police identified the second suspect as 22-year-old Marcel Vines of Southeast D.C., who has been charged with first-degree murder while armed in connection with Lewis’ death.

The announcement says police transported Vines from the D.C. jail to the Homicide Branch office where he was placed under arrest, but it doesn’t say why he was in jail prior to his arrest on Wednesday and doesn’t provide additional details on how investigators linked him to Lewis’ murder.

Police and prosecutors were expected to disclose that information in charging documents to be filed on Thursday in D.C. Superior Court, where Vines was scheduled to appear for an arraignment.

His arrest took place six months after police charged the first suspect, Ashton Briscoe, 23, of Northeast D.C., with first-degree murder while armed in Lewis’ death.

At the time of Briscoe’s arrest police said they had no evidence to indicate Lewis was targeted because of her sexual orientation. But police and charging documents for Briscoe’s arrest said Lewis knew and was possibly friends with two young men who were shot and killed on the same day she was killed and whose murders are believed to be linked to Lewis’ murder.

A nine-page criminal complaint filed in court following Briscoe’s arrest says one of the two men was fatally shot with the same gun used to shoot and kill Lewis based on ballistics evidence obtained by homicide investigators.

The complaint says that after homicide detectives presented Briscoe with evidence that his cell phone was in the area where Lewis was murdered he confessed to being at that location as the driver of a car used to drive two other suspects in the case away from the scene of the murder.

The complaint says Briscoe insisted he did not shoot Lewis. It says he told detectives he heard gunshots fired after the two other male suspects, who drove to the scene in another car and who he followed in the car he was driving, drove their car into the alley and got out of the other car. The complaint says police later learned that the car the other two suspects drove to the scene turned out to be Lewis’s car. Lewis was a resident of Hyattsville, Md.

According to the complaint, Briscoe said the two suspects returned to the car he was driving and directed him to drive them away from the scene as flames engulfed Lewis’ car where her body was found in the trunk.

An autopsy conducted by the Office of the D.C. Medical Examiner found that Lewis died from 15 gunshot wounds and not from burns she suffered from the fire, the complaint says.

The complaint says Briscoe identified the two male suspects whom he says he drove from the scene but it only discloses the name of one of them, Malique Nathan Lewis, 20, of Southeast D.C. Prince George’s County police on Jan. 9 charged Malique Lewis, a resident of Southeast D.C., with first-degree murder for the shooting death of Armani Nico Coles, 27, who is one of the two victims killed on the same day as Lewis’ murder who police said was an acquaintance of Lewis.

The police charging documents do not say whether Malique Lewis and Kerrice Lewis are related.

The complaint says Kerrice Lewis was a known “associate” of Dennis Whitaker, 23, of Northeast D.C., who was arrested by D.C. police on Dec. 31 for the shooting death of the other victim killed on the day Kerrice Lewis was killed, Ronzay Green. Green was shot to death in the parking lot of a 7-Eleven store at 950 Eastern Ave., N.E. at 11:20 a.m. on Dec. 28, police charging documents say.

Although the criminal complaint for Briscoe’s arrest doesn’t say so directly, it suggests that the motive for Kerrice Lewis’ murder may have been revenge for her association with Whitaker, who is charged with killing Green. Briscoe and the two men he drove from the scene of Lewis’ murder may have been part of a rival faction associated with the Clay Terrace housing complex in Northeast D.C., which has been known as a location for youth gangs.

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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