For Immediate Release
Baltimore Man Facing Federal Charges for Murder for Hire Resulting in the Death of a Baltimore Woman, Witness Retaliation and Witness Tampering
Baltimore, Maryland – A federal grand jury returned an indictment yesterday charging Matthew Hightower, age 41, of Baltimore, Maryland, with two counts of conspiracy to murder a witness, one count each of witness retaliation murder and witness tampering murder, and one count of a murder for hire conspiracy related to the murder of Latrina Ashburne on May 27, 2016.
The indictment was announced by First Assistant United States Attorney for the District of Maryland Phil Selden; Special Agent in Charge Maureen Dixon of the Department of Health and Human Services Office of Inspector General; Special Agent in Charge Thomas J. Sobocinski of the Federal Bureau of Investigation; Commissioner Michael Harrison of the Baltimore Police Department; Special Agent in Charge Toni M. Crosby of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) Baltimore Field Division; and Chief Robert McCullough of the Baltimore County Police Department.
According to the five-count indictment, Hightower conspired to and did kill Ashburne with the intent to retaliate against this witness for providing information to a law enforcement officer relating to the commission and possible commission of a federal offense, as well as to prevent this witness from attending and testifying in an official proceeding.
Baltimore Police Department reports show that Ashburne was murdered in the early morning as she got into her car outside her home in the Cylburn neighborhood of Baltimore. The police reported that an unknown male approached and shot Ms. Ashburne in the upper body as she tried to run.
If convicted, Hightower faces a mandatory sentence life in prison for each of the two conspiracy counts, for the witness retaliation and witness tampering murder charges, for the murder for hire conspiracy. A federal district court judge will determine any sentence after taking into account the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.
An indictment is not a finding of guilt. An individual charged by indictment is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty at some later criminal proceedings. No court appearance has been scheduled. Hightower is detained.
First Assistant United States Attorney Phil Selden commended the HHS-OIG, the FBI, the Baltimore Police Department, the ATF, and the Baltimore County Police Department for their work in the investigation. Mr. Selden thanked Assistant U.S. Attorneys Kim Y. Oldham and Aaron S. J. Zelinsky, who are prosecuting the federal case.
For more information on the Maryland U.S. Attorney’s Office, its priorities, and resources available to help the community, please visit www.justice.gov/usao-md and https://www.justice.gov/usao-md/community-outreach.