WASHINGTON - A suspect accused of being involved in a deadly street racing crash pleaded not guilty in D.C. Superior Court on Thursday. Rasheed Murray has been charged with second-degree murder, reckless driving and DWI.
Prosecutors say Murray was racing D.C. firefighter Ryan Thompson last July when he crashed into another vehicle, killing Matthew Roth, a recent University of Maryland graduate.
The victim’s father, David Roth, sat in the courtroom and watched as the two men accused of killing his son went before a judge. It is the first time he had seen them together and it was all he could do to keep his composure.
Thompson and Murray are accused of racing up 16th Street on July 19 before Murray lost control of his car and crashed into Roth, who was heading home from a party.
Roth’s father had been to court before, but he had never found the courage to see the intersection where his son was killed until now.
“Senseless and ridiculous,” he said.
The 24-year-old Roth was on his way from Silver Spring to Arlington when prosecutors say Thompson, a D.C. firefighter, took up a challenge and raced Murray up 16th Street in the early morning hours before Murray crashed into Roth near Madison Street.
"As a parent, this is the worst thing any parent can go through,” said the victim’s father. “My son was killed by a senseless act by these two gentlemen and it’s very hard, very emotional.”
David Roth said his wife cries every day and has found it impossible to come to any of the hearings.
"Holidays, Christmas, Thanksgiving, they go home with their families, they sit and they have dinner with their families, and my wife and my son and I have to go to a cemetery,” said David. “My son would never speed. He would never drink and drive. He always did the right thing. He was a great kid.”
David Roth was joined at the court hearing with three of Matt's friends where they draped a Maryland Terrapins basketball jersey over a front row seat. It was given to the Roths by head coach Mark Turgeon, who also sent them a note.
"David, I hope this jersey brings back happy and peaceful memories of Matthew,” it said.
Prosecutors say Thompson and Murray were speeding at nearly 100 miles an hour when the crash occurred.
Thompson, a D.C. firefighter who was assigned to Engine 22 on Georgia Avenue, has been on paid administrative leave since he was indicted last month.
"My son was just the nicest kid,” said David Roth. “Our family has been decimated, but we are trying to stay together.”
There are still a few facts unknown in this case. Prosecutors have said Murray was drunk, but they have not released the results of a blood test. He was injured in the crash and taken to the hospital.
As for Thompson, prosecutors have not said publicly if he remained at the scene or how they knew he was allegedly involved.