Sutherland family reacts to judge’s ruling on murder suspect

Accused killer deemed competent, will stand trial next year

Jasper Spires.
Jasper Spires.

After two psychological examinations, the accused murderer of Trumbull native Kevin Sutherland has been ruled mentally competent by a federal judge and will stand trial next year.

Jasper Spires, 18, is accused of stabbing Sutherland to death on a Washington, D.C., Metro train on July 4 after reportedly trying to steal the 24-year-old’s cellphone.

Speaking to The Times Tuesday afternoon, Kevin’s parents, Doug and Theresa Sutherland, gave their reaction to the court hearing that was held in Washington, D.C., Friday, Oct. 9.

“We expected the judge to rule that way,” Doug Sutherland said. “Any other decision would have been a surprise to us.

“We’re happy that the case can now move forward,” he added.

The Sutherland family attended the hearing with Theresa Sutherland’s cousin and two of Kevin’s friends from American University, from which Kevin graduated in 2013.

Doug said the case is now in the hands of the grand jury, which will examine the evidence against Spires and decide whether to charge him with murder.

“Based on the evidence, it could be murder in the first degree or murder in the second degree,” he said.

“The prosecution will begin presenting their case in January at the next status hearing and the grand jury will make the indictment,” he explained. “We just have to wait and see.”

Doug added that the prosecution could offer Spires a plea deal, based on the evidence, to ensure a conviction.

“It’s not uncommon for this type of case,” Sutherland said of the process.

“We’re just going to have to wait on the grand jury.”

At Friday’s hearing, the Sutherlands sat across from Spires’ father, Myles, whom they had never seen in person before.

“He did not approach us,” Doug said. “And he didn’t want to even look at us.”

The Sutherlands believe the story of the Spires family will eventually make its way to the national media, and that it will provide background on the accused murderer.

“His story needs to be told,” Doug said. “At some point, we’ll hear about his family and his upbringing.

“I don’t think it has a lot to do with the murder case, but it will help us understand him better and why something like this could happen,” he added.

Memorial contributions may be made to the Kevin Joseph Sutherland Memorial Fund and the Kevin Sutherland Internship Fund at www.american.edu/giving/kevin-sutherland.cfm. For questions, contact Lee Holsopple, the assistant vice president of university programs, at lee.holsopple@american.edu.