Indicted by the grand jury in November, Kenneth John Dias III has now pleaded guilty to criminal gang participation and is slated to be sentenced in February.
Fairfax County police arrested Dias, 18, of Clinton, Md., in connection with the Oct. 13 stabbing of a 16-year-old Fairfax boy inside Fair Oaks Mall. Believing that the incident was gang-related, they charged Dias with malicious wounding and gang participation.
Police said the victim walked into the mall that evening, around 6:30 p.m., with a woman, 21, and boy, 14, both from Fairfax. As he entered, he bumped into another man who, according to police, reportedly "stabbed the teen in the midsection, knocking him to the ground."
The suspect ran outside the mall and then back inside through a department store. But the victim and his two acquaintances followed the suspect and chased him inside the department store.
When police arrived, the victim told officers he'd been stabbed. They then found the suspect — later identified as Dias — inside the mall and apprehended him. Meanwhile, the victim was treated at Inova Fairfax Hospital for non-life-threatening injuries.
After the incident, police spokeswoman Shelley Broderick said Dias and the victim "knew of each other because they were both in gangs." Dias' attorney, Bob Whitestone, said investigation revealed that everyone involved in the altercation "was armed with knives — even the victim and his companion."
The malicious-wounding charge was later dropped in exchange for Dias' promise to plead guilty to the criminal gang-participation offense.
He did so Dec. 27 in Circuit Court but, first, Judge Gaylord Finch made sure Dias understood exactly what he was doing and ascertained that he was entering his plea, freely and voluntarily, and because he was indeed guilty of the crime with which he's charged. Finch then set his sentencing for Feb. 23.