Daughter of ex-Nat’l intelligence director convicted in fatal attack on friend

The daughter of a prominent politician faces 40 years in prison after being found guilty of stabbing a man’s death.

Sophia Negroponte, 29, was convicted of second-degree murder in the 2020 homicide of Yousuf Rasmussen, 24, Montgomery County State’s Attorney John McCarthy told Live. press conference Tuesday. Authorities say Negroponte stabbed Rasmussen – a friend she has known since high school – after a night of drinking in the Washington DC suburb of Rockville, Maryland.

The sentencing comes after Montgomery County jurors deliberated for 16 hours at the end of what McCarthy called a “particularly lengthy trial” that began Dec. 6, noting breaks for the Christmas and New Years holidays .

The victim’s mother, Dr. Zeba Rasmussen, spoke to reporters outside Montgomery County Circuit Court following the guilty verdict.

“Yousuf was a kind and gentle soul, a loving person who brought our family and many friends great joy during his 24 years of life,” Dr Rasmussen said. “We will carry it with us forever.”

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On February 13, 2020, at approximately 11:15 p.m., Rockville City Police Department officers responded to the West Montgomery Avenue residence after reports of a stabbing, according to police. State’s Attorney McCarthy said the address was a shed behind a primary residence, which Negroponte had rented through Airbnb.

“That night they agreed to meet at his new location at Airbnb, just a few blocks from where we are,” McCarthy said at the courthouse. “There was alcohol that was consumed. Significant amounts of alcohol. That was a big part of this trial.

McCarthy said a third friend and eyewitness who joined the couple that evening was key to understanding what happened. According to the witness, Negroponte and Rasmussen had two altercations throughout the evening, after which Rasmussen left the rental.

A police document from Sophia Negroponte

Sophia Negroponte Photo: Montgomery County Police Department

When he realized he had forgotten his cell phone, Rasmussen returned, prompting the defendant to grab a kitchen knife before “stabbing him several times”, according to McCarthy. One of the injuries, McCarthy said, was “a fatal blow that severed his jugular.”

Assistant State’s Attorney Donna Fenton detailed the attack in her closing arguments, according to the Associated press.

“His hand was on that knife when it was plunged into his face, and cut his throat, and plunged into his neck, where the blood flowed out and he collapsed almost immediately,” Fenton said.

When officers arrived at the residence, they found Negroponte cradling Rasmussen, pressing a towel to the victim’s neck, according to The Associated Press. Police body camera footage of the scene was shown to jurors.

“Yousuf, breathe,” Negroponte could be heard saying to Rasmussen. “I am really sorry.”

A photo of Keris Riebel on social media

A photo of Keris Riebel on social media

Delivering the verdict on Tuesday, Montgomery County Circuit Court Judge Terrance McGann said Rasmussen was “taken from this earth at a very young age with his whole life ahead of him in such a horrific way. “, according to the Associated Press.

McCarthy told reporters that Rasmussen had just graduated from college two months before the violent attack and was “making his way through life”, adding that he was “not a big guy”.

Negroponte’s defense and family argued that the defendant – originally charged with first-degree murder – was too drunk to have any intent, which would have warranted the harshest charges.

His adoptive father, John Negroponte – whom former US President George W. Bush appointed in 2005 as the nation’s first director of national intelligence – was one of many who wanted to consider Negroponte’s alleged alcoholism, according to the report. ‘Associated Press.

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“Neither the persecutors nor perhaps the jury gave sufficient consideration to the complexities and mitigating circumstances of the case – Sophia’s past trauma and other factors that led to a very troubled existence,” said Mr. Negroponte after the verdict. “She had severe alcohol use disorder.”

John Negroponte and his wife, Diana, adopted Negroponte from Honduras after the diplomat served as an ambassador there.

After Tuesday’s verdict, Mr Negroponte said he and his family were “very disappointed” with the decision, adding: “The jury has obviously made up its mind.”

Mr. Negroponte said an appeal is possible.

According to State’s Attorney McCarthy, Negroponte remained free on bail for the duration of the case – largely due to the COVID-19 pandemic – but was taken into custody after the verdict after the revocation of the bond.

His sentencing is scheduled for March 31.

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