Church beating suspect pleads guilty to attempted murder
Capitol Heights man to serve 20 years for College Park Christmas Eve attack
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This story was corrected on July 29, 2009. An explanation of the correction follows the story.
Shanon Washington, the man accused of beating a 69-year-old Greenbelt man outside a College Park church on Christmas Eve, pleaded guilty to the crime Monday in Upper Marlboro.
Washington, 29, of Capitol Heights initially faced charges of robbery, first- and second-degree assault and first-degree attempted murder. According to the agreement, he pleaded guilty to second-degree attempted murder and was sentenced to 28 years in prison, with all but 20 years suspended.
"I'm satisfied that justice is served," said the victim, Wayne Williams, during a news conference Monday outside Holy Redeemer Catholic Church, where the beating occurred, in College Park. "The only true satisfaction would be for it never to have happened, and I'm not going to get anything like that."
Washington attacked Williams in the church's parking lot on Dec. 24, shortly after Williams dropped off his wife, Ginny, at choir practice for that evening's midnight Mass.
Williams was asleep in his vehicle at about 11:15 p.m. when Washington entered, severely beat him and stole his wallet before leaving the scene.
Williams, who was covered in blood and suffered multiple facial fractures, called police and was taken to Washington Hospital Center in Washington, D.C.
He spent 26 days recovering in the hospital and even had last rites performed by Holy Reedemer's pastor, the Rev. George A. Wilkinson Jr.
Williams is recovering but has seven plates in his face and has permanently lost all vision in his right eye due to the attack.
"I should be grateful for what I had and grateful for what I now have," Williams said.
Both Williams and his wife have resumed attending church regularly. They thanked church and family members for their support throughout the ordeal.
"Several people in the parish community were kind enough to visit regularly in the hospital," said Ginny Williams. "Once Wayne came home from the hospital, they prepared meals for us."
On July 6, Washington appeared ready to accept a plea agreement but backed out at the last minute. The deal would have included a first-degree assault conviction and 30 years in prison, 10 of which would have been suspended. Under both agreements, Washington will serve a base sentence of 20 years.
"I think the legal system, in this instance, was able to impose the kind of sentence that this defendant deserved for this kind of vicious beating," said Prince George's County State's Attorney Glenn F. Ivey, who also spoke at the news conference. "This is a terrible thing that happened to a very wonderful person."
Washington's trial was scheduled to begin Aug. 17 before he agreed to the second plea. Calls to his attorney, Deputy District Public Defender Gary Ward, were not immediately returned.
Since his arrest in January, Washington has been held without bond at the Department of Corrections in Upper Marlboro. He has an extensive criminal history, including multiple arrests for vehicle theft and two convictions for vehicle manslaughter, stemming from a one-car crash in Riverdale in 2003.
According to court documents, Washington was accused of driving drunk when he crashed the car, killing two of its passengers. When a motorist stopped at the scene to assist the victims, Washington stole the man's vehicle, drove off and was later arrested in College Park.
He was sentenced to 10 years in prison, eight of which were suspended, and five years probation. Monday's conviction will keep him in prison for much longer.
"I'll try to forgive him spiritually," Williams said. "But I sincerely don't want him to be able to do this to you, me or anybody ever again."
E-mail David Hill at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Correction: The story originally said Williams, not Washington, was accused of drunk driving in court documents.