A fourth District teenager has been charged with murder in connection to the shooting death of District middle school principal Brian Betts.
D.C. police arrested 19-year-old Joel Johnson on murder and robbery charges Tuesday night, Montgomery County police said. Johnson's mother, Deborah Johnson, said "I don't want to talk to any press," when reached by The Washington Examiner at her home in Southeast on Wednesday.
Betts was found shot to death in the bedroom of his Silver Spring home last month. Police have said Betts' suspected killers met the 42-year-old Shaw Middle School at Garnet-Patterson principal on an Internet chatroom for homosexuals.
Like the three District 18-year-olds arrested on murder charges earlier this month in the case, Johnson was supposed to be under the watchful eye of the District's juvenile justice system, records obtained by The Examiner show. Johnson is at least the eighth District juvenile justice ward to be charged with murder this year.
Johnson's criminal history dates back to January 2007, when he was arrested on charges of receiving stolen property, theft and using a vehicle without permission, records said. He was arrested on similar charges In December 2007 and again in August 2008. In December 2008, he was arrested for unlawful entry.
The records show that Johnson was admitted to a youth diversion program on April 6, just eight days before he and three others allegedly plotted to rob Betts. But the robbery on the night of April 14 ended with Betts' murder, police said. The teens are accused of stealing Betts' sport utility vehicle and his credit cards after killing him.
Sharif Lancaster and Alante Saunders were caught on video surveillance using the credit cards within hours of the murder, court documents said. Deontra Gray reportedly told police he was at Betts' house at the time of the murder. Police did not immediately say Wednesday how Johnson was involved.
Of the murder suspects, Saunders' criminal history dates back the furthest. He was charged with a child sex offense when he was 11 years old, court documents said.
D.C. Attorney General Peter Nickles has started an investigation to determine how the teens slipped through the juvenile justice system's cracks.