Accused Killer Arrested in Second Cold Case Homicide: 2005 Murder of 19-Year-Old Bushwick Man

Wednesday, February 22, 2017


Accused Killer Arrested in Second Cold Case Homicide:
2005 Murder of 19-Year-Old Bushwick Man

Defendant Previously Charged with Killing Teenager in 2004;
Newly-Created Brooklyn DA’s Cold Case Unit will Investigate Unsolved Crimes

Acting Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez, together with New York City Police Commissioner James P. O’Neill, today announced that a 38-year-old man who is under indictment for the 2004 murder of a Bushwick teenage girl has been arrested in connection with the death of 19-year-old Rashawn Brazell in the same Brooklyn neighborhood a full year later. The case was investigated by the District Attorney’s Forensic Science Unit, which is expanding to include a Cold Case Unit that will continue to identify and investigate old, unsolved homicides and other crimes.

Acting District Attorney Gonzalez said, “For 12 long years, the family and friends of Rashawn Brazell have been searching for answers after this beloved young man was killed and discarded in such a horrific fashion. Today, I am pleased to say that we have solved this cold case, hopefully allowing a small measure of closure for Mr. Brazell’s loved ones. Our newly-created Cold Case Unit will now work to get justice for homicide victims whose cases remain unsolved.”

Recognizing the importance of solving all homicides, the Brooklyn District Attorney’s Office is expanding its Forensic Science Unit to include a Cold Case Unit. The Unit will be staffed with a newly-hired forensic analyst with extensive work experience at New York City’s Office of Chief Medical Examiner. This DNA expert will assist in analyzing previous testing in cold cases and advise if additional tests are available and necessary. She will also review all DNA reports obtained by the Office, prepare expert witnesses and assist prosecutors in cross examining defense expert witnesses. The Brooklyn DA’s Office is the only prosecutorial agency in New York State that has a forensic analyst on staff to help navigate the increasingly complicated and ever-developing landscape of DNA and other forensic evidence.

The Acting District Attorney identified the defendant in this case as Kwauhuru Govan, 38, formerly of Gates Avenue in Bushwick, Brooklyn. He was arrested today on a warrant charging him with second-degree murder.

On November 17, 2016, following an investigation by the NYPD’s Cold Case Squad and the Brooklyn District Attorney’s Forensic Science Unit, Govan was charged with the murder and kidnapping of 17-year-old Sharabia Thomas, who left her Gates Avenue home on February 11, 2004 and was found dead inside two laundry bags later that day. That case was solved based on previously-untested DNA evidence that was recovered from under Sharabia’s fingernails and matched the defendant, whose DNA profile was entered into a national database after a 2014 arrest in Florida. That homicide case is still pending.

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/Cold Case Unit, with the assistance of Assistant District Attorney Danielle Reddan of the District Attorney’s Trial Bureau III, Grey Zone.


An arrest is not proof of a defendant’s guilt.