Suspect in Fatal Metro Stabbing Robbed Other Train Passengers, Authorities Said

Witnesses told police that a Metro rider killed aboard a train on Independence Day was repeatedly punched and stabbed during a struggle with his attacker, according to documents made public Tuesday. They also said the killer robbed other passengers before getting off the train.

The suspect, 18-year-old Jasper Spires, was ordered held without bond Tuesday.

Police say he fatally stabbed 24-year-old Kevin Joseph Sutherland aboard a Metro train at the NoMa-Gallaudet station. Passengers said they watched in horror as the assailant stabbed Sutherland repeatedly.

Police say Spires then threatened and robbed others on the train before running from the scene covered in blood.

Court documents say one witness saw Spires attempt to take something from Sutherland's waist area and that they struggled over the item before Sutherland was punched and stabbed in his chest, back, sides and arms.

The witness said Spires threw Sutherland's cellphone at him as he lay bleeding on the train car's floor. Another witness said Spires stomped on the victim.

Other witnesses told police that Spires stole money from other passengers after killing Sutherland.

A witness who was robbed said Spires asked, "What do y'all got?" as he approached and then took money, about $65, from the victim's wallet. 

Another witness -- the person who allegedly saw Spires stomp on Sutherland -- said Spires approached an older man and woman and stole money from them.

A medical examiner who conducted an autopsy on Sutherland told a police officer that she observed 30 to 40 cutting and stab wounds on his body, 20 of them stab wounds, according to a document filed in the case. One stab wound struck his heart and another fractured a rib and punctured his lung, the medical examiner said.

Spires' attorney, Antoini M. Jones, said he hopes "everyone maintains an open mind until all investigations are complete." Jones said Spires' family is "extremely saddened" by the situation, hopes he was not involved and asks that the public not rush to judgment.

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Jones declined to discuss his client's mental health or potential drug use, though a court document said that during previous encounters with police Jones had "acted as if he was under the influence and would talk to himself."

Authorities have said they're also investigating Spires in connection with other crimes, including robberies, over the Independence Day weekend. Police say Spires had been arrested Thursday, two days before the fatal stabbing, after he allegedly threatened and tried to rob a man outside a strip of stores in Friendship Heights. Spires was freed while awaiting trial.

On Saturday, Sutherland was headed to meet friends for Fourth of July celebrations when he was killed aboard the train, police say. 

Spires was arrested Monday in the 4800 block of Georgia Avenue NW. He has been charged with first-degree murder while armed. His next court appearance is July 17.

Police say they identified Spires as a suspect from a health insurance card in a book bag that he dropped near the station's turnstiles. 

According to charging documents, just hours before Saturday's fatal stabbing, Spires had picked up a book bag that was seized during his July 2 arrest. Police say it appears to be the same bag found at the Metro station July 4.

On Monday night, those who were close to Sutherland talked about their friend and what they've lost.

"He was everything, and it's the small details about him that you don't realize you miss until now that he's actually gone," said a friend. "He was just so quirky and so loving."

According to his LinkedIn website, Sutherland served as an intern for Rep. Jim Himes (D-Conn.) in 2008 and 2010. Sutherland was employed at New Blue Interactive at the time of his death.

He was an American University alumnus and two-time student government secretary.

The American University Student Government (AUSG) issued a statement Sunday: "Kevin Sutherland was truly the best of us," said AUSG President Sasha Gilthorpe. "He was incredibly kind. He was utterly and completely devoted to his friends. He used his intelligence and his talents to be a champion for what he believed in. We are all better for knowing Kevin."

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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