Dawit Seyoum found not guilty by reason of insanity for Carolyn Cross murder

Dawit Seyoum found not guilty by reason of insanity for Carolyn Cross murder

By Chris Teale (File photo)

Dawit Seyoum, who murdered D.C. corrections official Carolyn Cross in an Alexandria apartment building was found not guilty by reason of insanity after two inconclusive jury trials.

In both trials, the jury was unable to reach a unanimous verdict as to whether Seyoum was criminally responsible for Cross’ murder or whether he should be found not guilty by reason of insanity. Deputy Commonwealth’s Attorney Cathryn F. Evans and Assistant Commonwealth’s Attorney Andrew S. Criado, who prosecuted the case, agreed to the plea after a total of 10 days deliberation by the juries.

Seyoum will be transferred to the custody of the Commissioner of Behavioral Health and Developmental Services for evaluation. Seyoum will be held in a secure mental health facility during the evaluation process, and his status will be reviewed at a hearing on February 11, 2016.

The 29-year-old killed Cross on September 7, 2014 by striking her on the head 15 times with a large wrench and then strangling her at the Seminary Towers apartment complex on Kenmore Avenue. Cross was found by her daughter, Clarissa Davis.

Seyoum returned to his apartment and was discovered by officers lying in the fetal position wearing just his underwear having attempted suicide. He confessed immediately to the crime.

“My thoughts are with the victim and the victim’s family as this case is brought to a conclusion,” said Commonwealth’s Attorney Bryan Porter in a statement. “Ms. Cross was senselessly attacked by a stranger with significant mental health issues. She is sorely missed by those that loved her, and I regret that we were unable to secure a conviction in this matter.

“I appreciate the hard work of the police and prosecutors assigned to the case, and of both juries who heard the matter. The fact that both juries were unable to reach a unanimous verdict shows the complex nature of the evidence.  In the end, I am confident that this outcome will serve the community by providing Mr. Seyoum the intensive mental health treatment he needs.”