WASHINGTON (CBSDC) - Three young men are being held by police without bail in a nearly fatal beating of man on Capitol Hill and it turns out officers had a key piece of evidence in their possession for weeks.
Police believe they found T.J. Maslin’s cell phone, the victim of a brutal beating and robbery in Eastern Market which found him in the hospital fighting for his life just hours later.
Maslin was assaulted on his way home from a bar on Aug. 18. He had been out for drinks with friends after attending a Nationals game and was found laying unconscious in front of a North Carolina Ave. home the next morning. The three suspects roamed free for weeks – although it was later revealed they were picked up for another crime then released – before finally being tied to the young father’s beating.
D.C. police revealed Thursday they had allegedly found Maslin’s iPhone after arresting the same three men in an armed robbery in Adams Morgan just hours after the beating of Maslin on Capitol Hill.
Investigators of the robbery didn’t turn the phone on until weeks later, according to 9News Now, when a civilian tipster recognized the suspect’s white Hyundai from surveillance footage.
When police finally turned the phone on, it suddenly became clear the armed robbery suspects they picked up in Adams Morgan could be the same men who caused Maslin to have two brain surgeries in a hospital miles away. A quick search of the phone revealed pictured of Maslin’s 22-month-old son and messages to his wife.
D.C. Police Chief Cathy Lanier issued the following statement Thursday:
“The day Mr. Maslin was found and identified; we spoke with his wife and obtained the information necessary to track his cell phone. The phone could not be tracked because the battery was dead and the SIM Card had been removed … detectives continued to pursue that information by subpoena to obtain additional records from the service provider…. It was a combination of multiple items of evidence; i.e., video, credit card records, interviews, and the phone recovery that lead to these arrests.”
On Wednesday police announced the arrests of Michael Moore of Landover, 18, Tommy Branch of Fort Washington, 21, and Sunny Kuti, 17, who is being prosecuted as an adult.
Investigators say Kuti admitted to slamming Maslin in the back of the head with a “fake ‘em out” BB gun. Moore allegedly admitted to punching Maslin to the ground. They entered not guilty pleas.
Thomas Maslin is still in the hospital, blind in one eye, with no sensation on the right side of his body, and unable to walk or feed himself, according to those same court documents.