Bushwick man gets 25 to life for 2004 murder of 17-year old girl
Diagram of device to restrain women found in his prison belonging
A 40-year-old man has been sentenced to 25 years to life in prison for the 2004 murder of Sharabia Thomas, a teenager from Bushwick. A DNA analysis of cells found on the victim’s fingernails, conducted in 2016, was a match to the defendant, leading to his arrest and conviction.
“Thanks to DNA technology and hard work by Cold Case detectives and my prosecutors, we were able to obtain justice for Sharabia and bring a small measure of closure to her loved-ones, who have been waiting many years,” said Kings County District Attorney Eric Gonzalez. “I am determined to continue looking back into the past to hold violent offenders responsible for their crimes and to promote public safety.”
The defendant is Kwauhuru Govan, 40, formerly of Gates Avenue in Bushwick. He was sentenced Friday by Brooklyn Supreme Court Justice Joanne Quinones to 25 years to life in prison following his conviction last month of second-degree murder after a jury trial.
According to trial testimony, the naked body of Thomas, 17, was discovered on the afternoon of Feb. 11, 2004 inside two laundry bags on the side of an alleyway adjacent to 130 Palmetto St. in Bushwick. She 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.
Authorities 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 Cold Case 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 from DNA that was discovered on multiple nails from both hands, the evidence showed. It was uploaded to the national DNA database, which is maintained by the FBI, and matched the defendant, whose DNA was entered into the database after a 2014 arrest for an armed robbery in Polk County, Florida.
A notebook found in his prison belongings contained a sketch of a chair-like device that was meant to restrain women during sexual encounters. The ligature markings found on the victim matched the restraints in the design.
Govan defendant was arrested in November 2016 upon his release from a Florida prison and was subsequently extradited to Brooklyn. In a statement, the defendant, who resided about two blocks from Sharabia’s home in 2004, denied knowing the victim.
The defendant is also facing a separate indictment for the 2005 murder of 19-year-old Rashawn Brazell. That case is pending.