Barry Marable convicted in DC shooting of aspiring social worker Tom Marmet

The pair were just 22 that night in October 2018 when their lives crossed.

Tom Marmet was a Chevy Chase native who wrote his college thesis on political activist Angela Davis and wanted to find solutions to help the district’s most disadvantaged residents.

Barry Marable, lawyers say, struggled with mental illness and severe paranoia after he and his younger brother grew up in an abusive foster home following their mother’s drug addiction and his father’s death from cancer.

Marable was the type of district resident Marmet wanted to help. But just before 6 p.m. on October 24, in what his defense attorney called an episode of uncontrolled paranoia, Marable pulled out a gun and fired aimlessly into a busy street.

Marmet, who had just finished delivering meals as a volunteer for So Others Might Eat (SOME), was struck and killed on his way home while sitting in his Jeep at a red light in the northeast of DC.

On Friday, after pleading guilty to intentional homicide while armed, a DC judge sentenced Marable, now 26, to 14 years in prison.

“What’s so difficult about this case is the very stark difference in the life experiences of the two people whose lives intersected that day,” DC Superior Court Judge Neal E said. Kravitz. “Mr. Marmet had all the advantages and made the most of those advantages to help others in a very selfless way. Mr. Marable had all the disadvantages in life. The amount of trauma he went through is indescribable.

About 10 members of Marmet’s family sat on one side of the courtroom with a large photo of him smiling as he listened to the judge, federal prosecutors, Marmet’s attorneys and Marable himself speak.

Kravitz told the courtroom that he read more than 70 letters written by Marmet’s family, friends and co-workers.

Marmet’s mother, Elizabeth, slowly read aloud a letter written by Marmet’s sister, Sally, who wrote that she had chosen not to attend the sentencing hearing “to preserve my own Mental Health”.

In the letter, Sally Marmet playfully describes her brother as “goofy and hilarious”, and also knew “exactly how to piss me off”. She also described him as a “pacifist” who “was deeply dedicated to creating a more admirable future”.

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Their father, Roger, a DC restaurateur who has since become an advocate for victims of violent crime, has opened up about losing his ‘best friend’ and described his son as someone who focused on helping others in society which seemed to have been abandoned.

“Tom was a force for good,” said Roger Marmet. “He was an extraordinary child and young man, fighting for justice and for those who were most marginalized and forgotten by us as a society.”

Roger Marmet explained how his son chose to help those released from prison, helping them with job training, addiction treatment and resume writing. “Tom believed in them and was given a second chance. He believed in helping those who didn’t get a fair first chance.

“Tom made the decision to leave the comfort of immense comfort and privilege to place himself near those who had been forgotten.”

Prosecutors and lawyers for Marable reached a sentencing agreement in November that included a prison term of between 8.5 and 16 years. Marable’s lawyers argued for the minimum, while prosecutors asked for the maximum.

Kravitz said that despite Marable’s personal challenges that could have led to the shooting, he believed Marable’s actions were “reckless and dangerous” and deserved severe punishment to serve as a deterrent to others as well.

Marmet’s family had previously expressed outrage at the plea deal and wanted Marable to stand trial, where if convicted of second degree murder he could have faced 25 years or more in prison.

Amy Phillips, one of Marable’s public defenders, said that at the time of the shooting, Marable believed he saw someone he believed had attacked him days earlier. Marable was walking with two women who also got scared and hid behind a white concrete wall in front of the gas station. Prosecutors, however, argued that Marable could also have been hiding behind the same wall. But instead, he chose to pull out a gun and shoot. Marmet was the only person affected.

Phillips said Marable will need extensive mental health treatment and counseling while incarcerated.

Marable, seated next to his attorneys, spoke briefly: “I just want to say I’m ready to take it like a man. I recognize my selfish actions. I want everyone in this courtroom to know that I’m far from a bad person. When I get out, I’ll show everyone here that I can make a difference for anyone who doubts it. Right now I feel like the worst person in the world. But I’ll get through this. »

The judge said a longer incarceration period would better ensure that Marable will receive the treatment he needs.

Meanwhile, Roger Marmet said escalating crime stretching across the city, from the more affluent neighborhoods of the Upper Northwest to the more economically depressed areas of parts of Southeast Washington and from the Washington Highlands, is not treated.

“One day a professional athlete, one day a 22-year-old social worker, 12 people were shot last week. When are we going to say enough is enough,” said senior Marmet. “I dedicate the rest of my life to solving this problem. Our city is crying out for help as our most marginalized and forgotten die in the streets.

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