August 29, 2018 at 9:29 am EDT | by Lou Chibbaro Jr.
3rd arrest made in murder of D.C. lesbian
Kerrice Lewis, gay news, Washington Blade

Kerrice Lewis (Photo courtesy of the D.C. Metropolitan Police Department)

D.C. police on Tuesday night announced they have arrested a third suspect in the Dec. 28, 2017 shooting death of lesbian Kerrice Lewis, 23, who investigators believe was kidnapped and killed as part of a conspiracy by three men in retaliation for her association with a man the suspects believed killed one of their friends.

Police identified the latest of the three suspects as Malique Lewis, 20, of Southeast D.C., who was charged on Tuesday with first-degree murder while armed. A police spokesperson told the Washington Blade that Malique Lewis and Kerrice Lewis were not related.

Malique Lewis’ arrest for Kerrice Lewis’ murder followed the Aug. 22 arrest Marcel Vines, 22, of Southeast D.C. and the Feb. 11 arrest Ashton Briscoe, 23, also of Southeast D.C. on charges of first-degree murder while armed in connection with Lewis’ death. All three men are being held without bond.

At the time of Briscoe’s arrest in February, D.C. police said they had no evidence to indicate Kerrice Lewis was targeted because of her sexual orientation.

The police statement announcing Malique Lewis’ arrest says he was transported to the D.C. Homicide Branch office from the Prince George’s County Jail, where he had been held since Jan. 9 for the murder of D.C. resident Armani Nico Coles.

Coles, 27, whom police say was a friend and associate of Kerrice Lewis, was allegedly shot to death by Malique Lewis less than two hours before Kerrice Lewis was killed. A police arrest affidavit filed in D.C. Superior Court earlier this year says ballistics tests show that Coles and Kerrice Lewis were both fatally shot with the same .45 caliber pistol.

In an Aug. 7 affidavit filed in D.C. Superior Court in support of Vines’ arrest, D.C. police homicide detective Brian Wise stated that evidence obtained by investigators shows that “probable cause exists to believe that Marcel Vines, Malique Lewis and Ashton Briscoe knowingly and willfully conspired and agreed to kill Armani Coles and Kerrice Lewis, and knowingly and willfully participated in the homicide of Armani Coles and Kerrice Lewis within Washington, D.C.”

In a separate criminal complaint filed in D.C. Superior Court three days earlier Wise stated, “On or about December 28, 2017, within the District of Columbia, Malique Lewis, Marcel Vines, and at least one other person known to law enforcement, did knowingly and willfully combine, conspire, confederate and agree together to kidnap, shoot and kill Armani Coles and Kerrice Lewis in violation of Title 22, District of Columbia Code Sections 1810, 2101, and 4502 (Conspiracy to Committee First Degree Murder While Armed).”

Police charging documents state that Kerrice Lewis’ body was found in the trunk of her burning car in an alley off of the 800 block of Adrian Street, S.E., at approximately 7:18 p.m., about an hour after Coles’ body was found on the road of I-295 just across the D.C. line in P.G. County. The charging documents say at least one witness told D.C. police that Coles’ body was dumped out of a car occupied by at least two men.

Investigators later learned that the car was a vehicle that Coles had rented a few days prior to his murder, leading investigators to believe that he and Kerrice Lewis were each abducted and killed most likely by the three suspects inside their own cars.

The affidavit says Kerrice Lewis was shot at least 13 times while in the trunk of her car prior to suffering severe burns after her car was set on fire. An autopsy conducted by the D.C. Medical Examiner’s Office found that the cause of death was the gunshot wounds rather than burns from the fire.

According to the charging documents, D.C. homicide detectives learned from multiple witnesses and cell phone records that Coles and Kerrice Lewis were friends or “associates” of Dennis Whitaker, 23, of Northeast D.C., who was charged with the Feb. 28 murder of Ronzay Green. Green was found shot to death in the parking lot of a 7-Eleven at 950 Eastern Ave., N.E. about 11:20 a.m. on Feb. 28.

Investigators have said in charging documents that Green, in turn, was a friend and associate of the three men now charged with Kerrice Lewis and Armani Coles’ murders – Malique Lewis, Ashton Briscoe and Marcel Vines.

The charging documents don’t say which or how many of the three men arrested for the two murders shot the two victims. Under D.C.’s’ criminal code, anyone who aids and abets the commission of a murder or is part of a conspiracy or plan to murder someone can be legally charged with the murder, even if they were not the person who fired a gun or used another means to kill the victim.

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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