Schmouree Fordyce-Williams, 20, of Potomac pled guilty May 10 to four charges in connection with the Sept. 6, 2004 rape of a Potomac woman and the robbery of two teens in Avenel the previous day.
Fordyce-Williams, a senior at Winston Churchill High School, entered a plea of guilty to one count of first degree sex offense, one count of first degree burglary, one count of conspiracy to commit burglary, and one count of robbery with a dangerous weapon.
Under a plea agreement forged by Assistant State's Attorney Deborah Armstrong and Assistant Public Defender Allen Drew representing Fordyce-Williams, Fordyce-Williams' sentence will be capped at 25 years of incarceration and four other charges against him will be dropped. In return, he agreed to testify truthfully for the state.
Montgomery County Circuit Court Judge William Rowan III asked Fordyce-Williams to confirm that he was entering the plea freely and knowingly, then accepted the plea without comment and set sentencing for Sept. 30, 2005.
Fordyce-Williams will remain incarcerated, without bond, until that time.
Leaving the courtroom, Fordyce-Williams smiled and waved to his mother and sister, seated in the gallery.
ACCORDING TO POLICE reports, court documents, and statements made in court, four men entered the victim's Falls Chapel Way home during the early morning hours of Sept. 6, 2004.
The men were Fordyce-Williams, then 19, Chris Benbow, 17, of Upper Marlboro, Gujan Lee, 18, of Washington D.C., and Kevin Croker, then 17, of Potomac.
According to prosecutors, Fordyce-Williams, Lee and Benbow woke up the woman in her basement bedroom, questioned her about valuables in the house, threatened her and raped and sexually assaulted her. Croker entered the victim's bedroom but then left the house and did not participate in the sex crimes. He later returned to help take items from the house, according to court testimony.
A fifth man, Daniel Smith took a key from the house while at a party two days earlier with the intention of coming back and stealing a laptop computer and other items, but did not enter the house with the other men Sept. 6.
When a guilty plea is entered, the state is required to proffer evidence that it would have used in court had the case gone to trial.
Prosecutors have frequently referred in court to the Sept. 5 gunpoint robbery of two teenage girls in the parking lot of the Avenel Swim Club, but until recently, no charges were filed in that case.
TWO WEEKS AGO Benbow pled guilty to first-degree rape and first-degree burglary under an agreement almost identical to Fordyce-Williams', with his possible sentence capped at 20 years.
Smith pled guilty Feb. 23 in Circuit Court to three counts: first degree burglary, conspiracy to commit first degree burglary and accessory after the fact to robbery with a dangerous and deadly weapon.
Smith, a former resident of Avenel who currently lives in Germantown, faces a maximum sentence of 45 years in prison.
Croker was indicted on several counts, including robbery with a dangerous and deadly weapon, first degree burglary and theft greater than $500. He faces those charges in juvenile court, because of a ruling by Circuit Court Judge Louise G. Scrivener on Feb. 24.
The State's Attorney's office said they could not provide further information about the status of Croker's adjudication, because it is a juvenile proceeding.
The only defendant whose case may still go to trial in Circuit Court is Lee, who faces a possible life sentence and is scheduled to go on trial Sept. 19.
Sentencing hearings for Fordyce-Williams and Benbow were intentionally set on dates subsequent to Lee's trial, because of their agreements to testify for the prosecution. Smith is currently scheduled for sentencing this month, but Armstrong said she will file a request to delay that sentencing for the same reason.
* The following account of the events of Sept. 4-6, 2004, is drawn from police reports, court documents, and statements in court by Assistant State’s Attorney Deborah Armstrong:
On Sept. 4 Daniel Smith, then 18, attended a party at the home of the victim on in Potomac. Seeing some of the valuables inside, he took a key with the intention of later returning with friends to burglarize the house. Over the next two days, Smith had several phone conversations with Kevin Croker, then 17, and the other defendants about possibly returning to the house.
Croker was the owner of a gun later used in the commission of the crimes. Testimony indicates that the gun was BB gun, but because Croker disposed of the gun after the fact and it was never recovered, that cannot be verified, according to court documents.
Chris Benbow, 16, Schmouree Fordyce-Williams, then 19, and Gujan Asimlee Lee, were friends of Croker and Smith. Croker and Fordyce-Williams were high school classmates and Benbow, of Upper Marlboro, knew the others because he has an aunt who lives in the Avenel neighborhood of Potomac, and often spent time there, according to court documents.
At around 11 p.m. on Sept. 5 several of the co-defendants were involved in the robbery at gunpoint of two 16-year-old girls at the Avenel Swim Club, according to Deborah Armstrong, assistant state's attorney. The victims were hanging out in the swim club parking lot when a dark SUV passed by and the car’s occupants yelled something at them. Shortly thereafter, three males, one with a gun, emerged from the open fields around the parking lot and demanded cell phones, jewelry and money from the victims. Police reports say that Lee wielded Croker’s gun in the robbery and Croker was the driver of one of the vehicles involved in the incident but did not approach the victims at the time of the robbery itself.
At around 3:40 a.m. on Sept. 6, Smith, Croker, Lee, Fordyce-Williams and Benbow approached the rape victim’s house on foot with the intention of entering with the stolen key and stealing items from her home, according to court documents. When they reached the house, Croker, Lee, Fordyce-Williams and Benbow masked their faces and went in, but Smith decided not to enter the house and walked away.
The four men entered the 19-year-old victim’s basement bedroom and woke her up at gunpoint. Croker left the house, apparently looking for Smith, as the other three defendants repeatedly raped and sexually assaulted the victim as the victim's parents and sister remained asleep in the house, according to court documents.
The three men then demanded money and drugs. When the victim told them she did not have any money or access to her parents’ ATM pin numbers, the men took several laptop computers, a wallet, and the victim’s sister’s purse, according to court documents.
Croker returned to the victim’s house and took items together with the other defendants. The defendants rendezvoused at Fordyce-Williams’ house, where three of them had been before going to the victim’s house.
Tara Harrison, attorney for Chris Benbow, said that Benbow, who pleaded guilty, was only admitting that he had sex with the woman without her consent and entered the house with the intention of stealing property. Many of the details of Armstrong's account were "not true" she said.