FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Thursday, November 17, 2016
Man Charged in 2004 Cold Case Murder
Of 17-Year-Old Bushwick Girl
Identified through DNA Found on Victim’s Fingernails;
Body Discovered in Two Laundry Bags Strewn in Alleyway
Acting Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez today announced that a 38-year-old man has been indicted for the murder of a teenager from Bushwick in 2004. A DNA analysis of the victim’s fingernails, requested this summer by the New York City Police Department’s Cold Case Squad and the District Attorney’s Forensic Science Unit, was a match to the defendant.
Acting District Attorney Gonzalez said, “Sharabia bravely fought for her life when she was attacked and the evidence that helped to find her alleged killer was discovered under her fingernails. It is my hope that solving this terrible crime will offer a small measure of comfort to Sharabia’s family, who suffered such an unspeakable loss. I am determined to continue the important work of our Forensic Science Unit to ensure that even if justice is delayed, it is not denied.”
The Acting District Attorney identified the defendant as Kwauhuru Govan, 38, formerly of Gates Avenue in Bushwick, Brooklyn. He was arraigned today before Brooklyn Supreme Court Justice Miriam Cyrulnik on one count of second-degree murder and one count of first-degree kidnapping and ordered held without bail. The defendant faces up to 25 years to life in prison if convicted.
The Acting District Attorney said that, according to the investigation, the naked body of Sharabia Thomas, 17, was discovered on the afternoon of February 11, 2004 inside two laundry bags on the side of an alleyway adjacent to 130 Palmetto Street in Bushwick. The victim suffered blunt force trauma to her head, face and torso and had visible ligature marks on her wrists and ankles. The cause of death was determined to be asphyxia by neck compression. There was no evidence of a sexual assault.
The investigation determined that Sharabia did not go to school that day and was last seen alive earlier that morning when her siblings left for school. DNA testing in 2004, using swabs from the sexual assault evidence kit, yielded no results.
In June 2016, the NYPD’s Cold Case Squad and the District Attorney’s Forensic Science Unit requested that fingernail clippings taken from the victim at the time of the autopsy be located and tested for DNA. A full male profile was developed and uploaded to the National DNA database which is maintained by the FBI. It matched the defendant, whose DNA was entered into the database following a 2014 arrest for an armed robbery in Polk County, Florida, according to the investigation.
Upon his release from a Florida prison, where he was incarcerated for the robbery, the defendant was ordered held on a fugitive warrant related to the present murder indictment on November 14, 2016 and was subsequently extradited to Brooklyn. In a statement, the defendant, who resided about two blocks from the Sharabia’s home in 2004, denied knowing the victim.
The case was investigated by New York City Police Department Detectives Evelin Guiterrez and Jason Palamara of the NYPD Cold Case Squad, under the supervision of Lieutenant David Nilsen of the NYPD Cold Case Squad.
The case is being prosecuted by Assistant District Attorney Rachel Singer, Chief of the District Attorney’s Forensic Science Unit, with the assistance of Assistant district Attorney Danielle Reddan of the District Attorney’s Trial Bureau III, Gray Zone.
An indictment is an accusatory instrument and not proof of a defendant’s guilt.