The 29-year-old daughter of a former U.S. director of national intelligence and ambassador to the United Nations under President George W. Bush is facing the possibility of several decades behind bars for murder.
A jury found Sophia Negroponte, the daughter of John Negroponte, guilty of fatally stabbing a 24-year-old man during a drunken argument inside of an Airbnb in Maryland nearly three years ago. The Montgomery County jury convicted her on Wednesday of one count of second-degree murder, after prosecutors said she stabbed Yousuf Rasmussen in the jugular with a kitchen knife.
Negroponte is facing a maximum sentence of 40 years in prison and is scheduled to be sentenced on March 31, 2023, Montgomery County State’s Attorney John McCarthy said during a press conference outside of the courthouse following the verdict. The judge also revoked Negroponte’s bond.
John Negroponte was the first person ever to be appointed to the position of U.S. director of national intelligence (DNI). Sophia Negroponte was one of five children adopted by John and his wife, Diana Negroponte.
According to McCarthy, Negroponte fatally stabbed Rasmussen “only a few blocks away” from the courthouse, inside of a carriage house directly behind a larger house on a property in the 400 block of West Montgomery Avenue. The residence was being rented by Negroponte through Airbnb.
Body camera footage showed at the trial showed officers speaking to a male witness outside of the carriage house who says Negroponte and Rasmussen had been friends for years and they and several others had been at the residence drinking that evening. The witness then says that the two had “some kind of altercation” that started out verbal and later escalated into violence.
“Anger and a little bit of punches – I’m like, trying to calm it down – and then all of a sudden she grabs a knife from the drawer and all of a sudden she like pulls it,” the witness says, simultaneously making a stabbing motion with his right hand. He then clarifies that Negroponte “hit” Rasmussen in the neck with the knife while the two were “scuffling.”
McCarthy said Negroponte and Rasmussen had known each other since high school and been friends for several years. He also said that the “substantial amounts of alcohol” consumed at the address that night played a significant role in the murder trial.
“Ms. Negroponte and the victim had verbally argued on two occasions during the evening,” McCarthy said. “[Rasmussen] decided that he was gonna leave, went to leave, then realized that he’d left his cell phone in the house and came back in. At that point, Ms. Negroponte had armed herself with a knife and stabbed him multiple times, one being a death blow that severed his jugular.”
And while the defense tried to argue that Negroponte’s alcohol consumption prevented her from being capable of having the specific intent for murder, McCarthy said there was approximately six hours of video footage showing how she “continued to function despite the fact that she had been drinking.”
“That defense was wholly rejected by the jury in their deliberations,” he said.
Rasmussen’s parents also released a prepared statement regarding the outcome of the trial.
Yousuf was a kind and gentle soul, a loving person who brought our family and his many friends great joy in his 24 years of life. We will carry him with us forever.
We are grateful for the dedication and professionalism of Maryland and Montgomery County officials, notably in the Circuit Court, the State’s Attorney’s Office and the Victim Assistance program. Above all, we wish to thank the many police and emergency medical technicians who rushed to the scene and tried to save Yousuf’s precious life.
To the family and friends from all over the world who have walked beside us on this difficult journey, we wish to express our deepest love and deepest appreciation for your support, for your prayers and for your compassion.
Watch prosecutors’ press conference below.
[images via Montgomery County Police]
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