JUDGE

Man Pleads Guilty to Killing American University Graduate on Metro Train in 2015

What to Know

  • Jasper Spires pleaded guilty in the fatal stabbing of 24-year-old Kevin Sutherland aboard a Red Line train near the NoMa Metro station.
  • Prosecutors say Spires, then 18, attacked Sutherland and three others at random on the Metro train.
  • Spires is expected to spend 30 to 35 years in prison.

The man who killed a recent college graduate on board a Metro train in 2015 has pleaded guilty to the crime that shocked the city.

Jasper Spires, 21, pleaded guilty to beating and stabbing Kevin Sutherland, 24, while the two men rode a Red Line Metro train on July 4, 2015.

Sutherland was on his way to a 4th of July party when Spires attacked him. He got on the train at the Rhode Island Metro station and was attacked before the train reached the next station.

Spires is set to serve between 30 and 35 years in prison.

Prosecutors said Spires, then 18, attacked Sutherland at random.

Metro surveillance video shows what happened before the stabbing.

Spires was standing near the fare machines at the Rhose Island Avenue Metro station about 12:40 p.m. when Sutherland, 24, walked through the turnstiles, officials said. Sutherland went up the esclator, walked to the front of the platform and waited for a downtown-bound train.

Spires went up to the platform a short while later, officials said. As he stepped off the escaltor, Spire put on gloves. He walked toward the front of the platform and waited for a downtown-bound train, officials said.

Both men boarded the second car of the train. Sutherland sat down in the middle of the car.

The train was en route to the next station, Noma-Galludet, when Spires snatched Sutherland's phone from his hand. Spires then attacked his victim with a knife, officials said.

According to officials, Spires stabbed Sutherland in the abdomen, back, sides and arms repeatedly. Sutherland fell on the floor, and Spires continued to stab him. Officials say Spires also kicked Sutherland in the body and head.

As the attack concluded, Spires threw the cell phone at Sutherland, hitting him in the head.

Spires also threatened one witness who tried to notify the train operator, telling them to "shut up" while brandishing the knife, officials said.

He robbed and threatened two other people on the train, including one senior citizen, News4 reported.

When the train arrived at the NOMA-Galludet station, Spires began to flee. Officials said he ran down the stairs and threw the bloody knife in a trash can.

Spires dropped his backpack while hopping over the turnstiles at the station. He turned around, but ultimately continued to run away without it, officials said.

Witnesses waited with Sutherland as his attacker fled. Metro employees and fellow passengers called 911, but Sutherland was unresponsive when first responders arrived, officials said. He was pronounced dead at the scene.

Sutherland, a recent American University graduate who'd interned for Rep. Jim Himes, was stabbed 19 times and cut 16 times, police said. Several of the stab wounds were deep enough to damage Sutherland's internal organs.

Spires was arrested two days later.

Spires, who attended Louisburg College in North Carolina, was admitted to psychiatric facilities at least two times in the three months before the attack, The Washington Post reported. He displayed "bizarre and combative behavior" at one facility and needed to be restrained, the Post reported.

In August, a judge ordered additional evaluations of Spires' mental competency, court records show. 

"Yes, my client has mental problems, but he is innocent of these charges," Spires' lawyer, Antoini Jones said during that August court hearing, the Post reported. "D.C. police need to catch the real killer. No one identified my client as the killer."

The case sparked a congressional action against synthetic drugs, which at least one congressperson believed were involved in the attack.

A grand jury indicted Spires in May on charges of first-degree murder while armed (premeditated and felony murder) with aggravating circumstances, assault with a dangerous weapon, armed robbery of a senior citizen, armed robbery, and carrying a weapon outside a home or business.

A judge is set to decide whether to accept the plea and sentence Spires in January.

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