A 28-year-old man has been arrested in the 2011 strangulation and stabbing death of an Eastern Market vendor whose body was found near a creek in a Northeast D.C. park.
Mark Anthony Coates, of Northeast D.C., was arrested Tuesday on charges of first-degree murder in the slaying of 56-year-old Leroy Studevant, according to court papers. The victim reportedly sold bottles of water and newspapers at the popular Eastern Market on Capitol Hill.
Studevant's body was found on the morning of Dec. 31, 2011, on the 4200 block of Hunt Place NE in Marvin Gaye Park. He was lying in the grass near a creek, and had a belt tied around his neck and three puncture wounds to his upper body. A knife blade was found underneath the body, court documents stated.
The night before Studevant's body was found, he, Coates, 32-year-old Alex Jerome Cater and a fourth person met at the Minnesota Avenue Metro station and then walked to a home where they spent the evening drinking and playing cards, according to court documents.
When Coates was arrested for an unrelated matter on Jan. 2, 2012, he admitted to spending the evening with the victim. However, he said that he last saw Studevant with the victim's acquaintances who he encountered when they were walking back to the Metro station at the end of the night, a charging document indicates.
Police seized Coates' clothes as evidence. Last month, a forensics laboratory concluded that blood stains on Coates' black jeans contained the DNA profile of Studevant.
A person who appears to be Cater told authorities that after playing cards and listening to music on Dec. 30, 2011, he and Coates began to walk Studevant to the Metro station. After Studevant refused to provide a cigarette, the others who were walking with him forced him into a dark location and assaulted him, according to the charging document.
Studevant tried to get away from his attackers, but they caught him and stabbed him with a knife and punched, kicked and strangled him, according to court papers. Coates then allegedly took Studevant's cellphone and money.
Cater, who lived in the same apartment as Coates, was arrested for Studevant's slaying in May 2012. A court document for Coates suggests that Cater has entered into a plea agreement. But that document did not use Cater's name, and a guilty plea does not appear in online court records. A U.S. Attorney's Office spokesman declined Wednesday to discuss the plea agreement.