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Man sentenced for Christmas killing of DC yoga teacher

Actress-yoga instructor Tricia McCauley is seen in this handout provided by D.C. police. McCauley went missing last Christmas after failing to show up for a dinner with friends. Police discovered her strangled body inside her car two days later. (Courtesy Metropolitan Police Department)

WASHINGTON — A man has been sentenced for the Christmas Day murder of a D.C. woman who was a popular yoga instructor and stage actress.

Thirty-year-old Duane Johnson was sentenced to 30 years in prison Friday for the murder of 46-year-old Tricia McCauley.

In September, Johnson pleaded guilty to first-degree felony murder. A deal with prosecutors called for the 30-year sentence, but it required a judge’s approval. During sentencing, the judge also ordered that Johnson be placed on 30 years of supervised release following his prison term and that he be required to register as a sex offender for the rest of his life.

According to prosecutors, Johnson attacked McCauley as she was driving to a dinner party on Christmas Day in 2016, leaving from her home on North Capitol Street in the Bloomingdale neighborhood.

Johnson got in the car, raped the woman, beat her and used her own scarf to strangle her, prosecutors said.

McCauley’s body was later found in the back of her car, outside a CVS on M Street in the West End area of Northwest D.C. Police said they found Johnson inside the store with McCauley’s keys and other belongings.

Johnson drove McCauley’s car around the area with her body inside and made several purchases using her credit cards, police said.

An autopsy determined that McCauley died of asphyxia caused by strangulation and of blunt force trauma.

On Friday, defense lawyer Jacqueline Cadman said Johnson was homeless and using drugs and alcohol around the time of the attack, and he had been plagued by mental illness from a young age.

While Johnson is remorseful and does apologize, Cadman said, “no apology that he gives is going to suffice.”

Johnson declined to speak at the sentencing.

“A 30-year sentence, I think, is felt to be just,” said Dean Hively, one of several of McCauley’s friends who were present for the sentencing. “Nothing can change the past.”

But Hively and other community members remain badly shaken by the crime.

“I think that it really shattered a lot of the confidence that we have, feeling comfortable on the streets of D.C.,” he said. “When your best friend is murdered and abused by a stranger on Christmas Day, it’s a little hard to take.”

“It has completely changed the way I view the city and interact with people,” said Elise Foster, another one of McCauley’s friends. “It’s every woman’s worst nightmare come true.”

Assistant U.S. Attorney David Misler said the agreement resolves the case “without having to cause the family and friends to go through what could be a lengthy and contested trial” and “ensures that this individual is off the streets for no less than 30 years.”

“We know that no sentence will really provide for the healing that her friends and family and the community really need,” Misler said outside the courthouse.


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