WASHINGTON — An Aspen Hill, Maryland, man was sentenced Friday to 70 years for trying to kill a pregnant teenager and her unborn baby because he wasn’t ready to be a father.
Dakota Brothers was 18 when he led the 19-year-old woman along a wooded path off Upton Street in Kensington on Aug. 31, 2016.
John McCarthy, the state’s attorney for Montgomery County, said Friday that Brothers and the victim had broken off their relationship, but on the day before the attack Brothers said he wanted to see her to buy some supplies for the baby. “That was a ruse,” McCarthy said. Brothers told a classmate of his plan to kill her that day, McCarthy said.
They were supposedly on their way to buy a car seat when they stopped to have sex. “One of the more despicable aspects of this case,” McCarthy said, came when Brothers asked the woman “to have sex one last time.”
Afterward, Brothers strangled her until she lost consciousness and stabbed her several times.
The woman was left for dead in a wooded area but was discovered by passers-by who got help.
Brothers told police when he was arrested that the victim was not his girlfriend and that he wasn’t ready to be a father. He pleaded guilty to two charges of first-degree attempted murder and first-degree assault and was sentenced Friday to 35 years on each of the attempted murder charges.
The baby was delivered by an emergency cesarean section that day; she and the baby both survived. The baby, McCarthy said, has cerebral palsy and has recently developed a seizure disorder.
Brothers will be eligible for parole when he’s served half his sentence.
McCarthy spoke to the media about his concerns over the growing violence towards pregnant women. He said the issue is not well understood and advocated for further study into the subject.
“This is the third time that I’ve stood here before the media talking about cases involving unwanted pregnancies where the father of the child has murdered — or attempted to murder — the mother because she has become pregnant.” McCarthy said. “This is an issue that is not really understood.”
According to McCarthy, 20 percent of deaths of pregnant women in Maryland are homicides. In D.C., he said that number is 43 percent.
Circuit Court Judge David Boyton said before passing his sentence that there were a lot of “relevant factors to consider” — Brothers was 18 years and 3 days old at the time of the crime; he is slightly autistic and bipolar, and was subjected to “torture” and mental and sexual abuse by family and strangers. He also had ADHD with impulse control problems.
He has been getting treatment while he’s been incarcerated and has earned his high school diploma, the judge said.
He recommended that Brothers be referred to the Patuxent Institution’s Youth Program so he can get treatment and build skills.
Brothers mouthed “I love you” to his family as he was led away from the courtroom.
WTOP’s Kristi King contributed to this report.
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