Ernest Stickell (booking photo)

On March 9, 2018, a jury found Ernest Stickell, a 59-year-old resident of Mechanicsville, Maryland, guilty of Unlawful Wounding–Felony and recommended a four-year prison sentence for his shooting of motorist Dejonte Holt on the Eisenhower Connector last summer.

The defendant was indicted for shooting Ms. Holt and for attempting to shoot her passenger, Ricardo Jennings, in the early morning hours of July 19, 2017. The offense occurred in the aftermath of a road rage incident on the Eisenhower Connector, as Holt and Jennings exited their vehicle to confront the defendant. Holt and Jennings were unarmed. Stickell claimed that he fired in self-defense.

Using a semi-automatic handgun, Stickell shot Ms. Holt in the neck, shoulder, and back. Mr. Jennings was not injured, and Stickell was found not guilty of attempting to shoot him.

The evidence established that the defendant reached for his loaded 9mm pistol, positioned himself inside the door jamb of his vehicle, and opened fire. Witnesses testified that the defendant fired 6 to 10 rounds at Ms. Holt and Mr. Jennings. The defendant continued to fire after Ms. Holt ran away and returned to her car. After the shooting stopped, three other motorists briefly followed the defendant’s vehicle as he attempted to escape the scene. These citizens provided the license plate number of the defendant’s vehicle to police.

Stickell eventually surrendered to the Maryland State Police in Frederick, Maryland, hours later. He told Maryland authorities that he threw the handgun used in the shooting out of his vehicle’s window as he crossed the Woodrow Wilson Bridge. Despite a thorough search, the firearm was not recovered.

Commonwealth's Attorney Bryan Porter said: "I thank the jury for their time and attention, and for serving as the conscience of the community. In this case, the defendant succumbed to his anger, deciding to take a firearm and indiscriminately shoot at unarmed people on a City street. This type of explosive violence simply cannot be tolerated in Alexandria, and the defendant will now serve a significant penitentiary sentence for his crime.

“I exhort all citizens to refrain from allowing road rage incidents to devolve into violence. Something about poor driving seems to strike a chord in human nature, and all of us are familiar with the feeling of frustration that arises when we are cut off in traffic. However, citizens should not allow this frustration to force a confrontation. If you feel that another person is recklessly driving, the correct course of action is to note the license plate and inform the police.

“That victims of this case did nothing to cause such an irrational and violent response from the defendant. I am extremely pleased that the defendant’s gunfire did not result in significant injuries to either of the victims.

“Citizens who chose to carry firearms must respond to confrontations dispassionately and lawfully. When they do not comport themselves with the law, the police department and my office will seek to hold them accountable for their reckless and dangerous actions.

"I wish to highly commend the outstanding police work that brought this case to a just result. The Alexandria Police Department's Criminal Investigations Section was instrumental in making this case, and the citizenry is lucky to have such dedicated professionals working on its behalf,” Porter said.

Deputy Commonwealth’s Attorney Cathryn F. Evans and Assistant Commonwealth’s Attorney Maana Parcham diligently prosecuted the matter on the behalf of the Commonwealth. The case was investigated by Detectives Ryan Clinch and Bikeramjit Gill of the Alexandria Police Department.

Stickell was remanded to the custody of the Sheriff and remains incarcerated in the Truesdale Adult Detention Center. The formal sentencing hearing of the matter was set on April 12, 2018, at 10:00 a.m.