One of two men arrested in the January fatal beating of New York Times journalist David E. Rosenbaum pleaded guilty to second-degree murder, robbery and conspiracy charges yesterday.
The plea entered by Michael C. Hamlin, 24, came under an agreement that means that he likely will be subpoenaed to testify in the prosecution of co-defendant Percy Jordan Jr., who is Hamlin’s cousin.
Hamlin will be sentenced Dec. 19. He would have faced up to 60 years in prison if he was convicted at trial. There is no parole for felony offenders convicted in D.C. Superior Court after 2000, though sentences can be reduced by up to 15 percent for good behavior.
Hamlin, appearing in D.C. Superior Court, admitted that he stole Mr. Rosenbaum’s wallet after Jordan beat the journalist over the head with a metal pipe on Jan. 6.
Mr. Rosenbaum, 63, was out for a walk when he was attacked on Gramercy Street near his Northwest home.
Hamlin’s attorneys said yesterday their client should get some leniency because he turned himself in and he took responsibility for his role in the crime by pleading guilty.
“From the outset, this was a tragedy of cataclysmic proportions,” said Steven Kupferberg, an attorney for Hamlin.
Marcus Rosenbaum, the brother of David Rosenbaum, said after the hearing the family was pleased that Hamlin “took responsibility” but still hopes he spends “a good, long time in prison.”
Hamlin’s relatives declined to comment after the hearing.
During the hearing, Hamlin’s mother yelled that she loved him, which prompted a rebuke from Judge Erik P. Christian against outbursts in the courtroom. Hamlin turned and nodded.
A graduate of Anacostia High School, Hamlin was employed as a trash truck driver in Virginia at the time of his arrest. He turned himself in after seeing his picture on television during coverage of the beating.
Stephen Mercer, an attorney for Hamlin, called his client “a young man who was led astray” and who had “a very strong family.”
Assistant U.S. Attorney Amanda Haines said Hamlin and Jordan drove to Northwest in Hamlin’s car after they agreed to commit a robbery together.
David Rosenbaum’s death has highlighted serious problems in the District’s emergency-response system.
A report by the D.C. Office of the Inspector General identified “an unacceptable chain of failure” in the response to Mr. Rosenbaum’s beating, including the early prognosis by a medical crew that he was drunk.