Guilty plea in ‘savage’ Md. home invasion murder

ROCKVILLE, Md. — Linda Johnston didn’t have a chance after 23-year-old Kwasi Sadler kicked through her basement door, intent on stealing the keys to her 2007 Toyota Prius, Montgomery County prosecutors said.

Confronted by Johnston, Sadler repeatedly stabbed and cut the 72-year-old, leaving her to die in the bedroom of her home in the 2700 block of Arcola Avenue, in Silver Spring near Wheaton.

“This is the ultimate crime against seniors in our community,” said Montgomery County State’s Attorney John McCarthy Thursday, after Sadler pleaded guilty to the first-degree murder of Johnston, and seven other counts, in circuit court.

Sadler, of Northeast D.C., had told detectives he only planned on stealing Johnston’s vehicle, which he knew she had, because he had recently helped a tenant move out of the room she rented in Johnston’s house.

“I don’t know how I went from stealing cars to murder,” Sadler said during an interview at police headquarters, according to court documents.

Outside the courtroom, McCarthy said Sadler’s comment was self-serving, since after breaking into the home, Sadler armed himself with a knife from Johnston’s kitchen.

“If all you did was go in to steal the car, why’d you have to go get a knife?” McCarthy said, speaking rhetorically about Sadler’s statement.

An autopsy found Johnston was stabbed and cut more than 40 times. McCarthy described the attack as “savage” and “overkill.”

Prosecutors said Sadler and his girlfriend used Johnston’s credit card in the hours and days after she was killed.

Judge Robert Greenberg accepted Sadler’s plea, and set sentencing for Sept. 6.

The plea agreement says prosecutors will ask for a maximum of life in prison, yet McCarthy said they would likely not ask for that sentence, because of a peculiarity in Maryland parole statutes.

If Sadler were sentenced to life, he would be eligible for parole after 15 years. However, if he received a sentence for a specific number of years, he wouldn’t become eligible until he had served half his sentence.

For instance, if sentenced to 50 years in prison, Sadler would become eligible after 25 years — 10 years later than if he received a life sentence.

“Our objective is to ask for a sentence that basically maximizes the period of time that he’s incarcerated for this crime,” said McCarthy.

Andrew Alsbrooks

Andrew Alsbrooks is an Associate Producer at WTOP. Prior to joining WTOP, Andrew worked for NBC Washington and he currently works at NBC Sports Washington from time to time. Finding the “why” in every story is what drives him to put his best foot forward on any topic that faces him.

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