Guilty verdict in 2016 Fairfax Co. killing

A man who had to be extradited from Ethiopia to stand trial was found guilty Wednesday of first-degree murder in a 2016 Fairfax County, Virginia, killing.

Yohannes Nessibu, 28, was convicted in the shooting death of Kedest Simeneh, 22, who was found in a backyard in Burke the morning of Dec. 22, 2016.

“It’s quite a long time coming. This was an execution style murder that happened in 2016. And there were a lot of legal hurdles to get to this point,” Fairfax County Commonwealth’s Attorney Steve Descano said, referring to Nessibu’s extradition.

“But really, it shows that no matter how long it takes, my office is going to do whatever is necessary to get justice for victims,” he said.

When the jury’s verdict was read, a number of the victim’s family members were in the courtroom.

“And there was just a palpable sense of relief,” Descano said. “This happened six years ago. So to be living with that pain for six years, and to finally see that the person who did this to your family member is being held accountable — ‘joy’ is too strong of a word, because it’s not a joyous occasion. But the sense of relief was palpable.”

Simeneh, who was Ethiopian-American, was discovered dead in the early morning hours after another Ethiopian-American, Henok G. Yohannes, 22, was shot to death in his home a few miles away the previous evening.

Nessibu was charged in both killings. The Commonwealth’s Attorney’s Office wanted the cases to be tried together, but a judge ruled that they be separated.

A sentencing hearing is scheduled for Feb. 17. Nessibu, who remains in custody, could get up to life in prison. The trial in Yohannes’ death is expected to happen before then.

Kristi King

Kristi King is a veteran reporter who has been working in the WTOP newsroom since 1990. She covers everything from breaking news to consumer concerns and the latest medical developments.

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