Man Sentenced to 25 Years in Prison for Role in Auto Theft Ring

by Patrick Herron

The following information courtesy of the Montgomery County State’s Attorney’s Office:
Today in the Circuit Court for Montgomery County, the honorable Judge Sharon Burrell sentenced Markus Kemp, 23, of Washington D.C. to 25 years in prison and 5 years of supervised probation upon release. (The sentence breakdown is 30 years suspend all but 15 plus a consecutive 10… total of 25) Kemp pled guilty on Dec. 10, 2021 to five counts including auto theft, theft over $25,000, burglary and conspiracy to commit burglary from incidents occurring between January and July of 2020.

The details are provided in a summary below, adapted from the State’s sentencing memo. Kemp was essentially the ringleader of a group who would travel from the District of Columbia into Chevy Chase, MD and steal cars from driveways and garages. In at least one case, they entered a home and burglarized it. A co-defendant, Azriel Echavarria, was sentenced to 18-months on April 26th, 2021 for burglary in the first-degree for his role in one of the incidents in June of 2020.

“We thank Assistant State’s Attorney Hannah Gleason for her work in this matter and Judge Burrell for appropriately holding this defendant accountable for such brazen, repeated auto theft in our community. This career criminal will no longer be able to target residents in Montgomery County,” said State’s Attorney John McCarthy.

Summary adapted from the State’s sentencing memo: 

FACTS OF THIS CASE

Between January 20, 2020, and July 25, 2020, Montgomery County Police detectives investigated a series of auto thefts from the Chevy Chase area. Investigators determined that Markus Tyrese Kemp (Date of Birth: 05/15/1999), hereinafter “Defendant” was involved in planning and scheming in thirteen separate incidents related to motor vehicle thefts and burglaries amounting to losses over $450,000 and impacting nineteen victims.

The defendant devised a plan that included recruiting other individuals to assist him in his crimes.  All of these incidents required multiple people, a driver to deliver the crew to the targeted area, and drivers to remove the vehicles and leave the area.  The general modus operandi was for the defendant to select 3-4 people to drive from Washington, D.C. in one vehicle, for 2 people to walk up a street of the neighborhood and the defendant himself would enter a vehicle and drive away with it.  The defendant primarily entered his victims’ driveways, adjacent streets, and garages to steal high-end vehicles and personal property.

Most of these crimes took place within the early stages of the COVID-19 pandemic; a time when fear, uncertainty, and stay-at-home orders were becoming part of daily life.  Entering a person’s home is brazen conduct in the best of circumstances; to do so when most individuals were confined to their homes makes it even more brazen.  For the victims and their families, the acts of the defendant made them fearful in their one remaining safe haven. 

In his interviews with Montgomery County Police, Defendant often admitted to taking these vehicles without remorse and shared details of his schemes without hesitation.

DEFENDANT’S PARTICIPATION AND PRIOR CRIMINAL HISTORY

            The defendant preyed on his victims at a time when the State of Maryland was at its most vulnerable: the COVID-19 Pandemic. The defendant took advantage of victims who remained sheltered in their homes to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. The defendant, however, did not let the pandemic slow him down.  Instead of staying home, the defendant was recruiting others to assist him in his theft scheme. 

During his interview with Montgomery County Police detectives, the defendant states that when determining who else accompanies him, the defendant states, “Most likely it will be friends on the corner.”  It is important to note that the defendant committed the burglary of one home with a co-defendant, Azriel Echavarria, at a time when it was a violation of the defendant’s own probation to have no contact with Mr. Echavarria. 

In his interview with Montgomery County Police when about a police chase, he led Metropolitan Police Department, Defendant openly admitted, “I ain’t gon’ lie, if I had the When Montgomery County Police asked what the Defendant’s motive was for stealing the high-end vehicles, the defendant admitted that when he steals the cars, he lends them out and charges individuals to drive the cars as rentals: “200 to 500 depending on the car. For the Audi, a [n***a] rushed me $1,000.”

This is not the first time the defendant was involved in orchestrating motor vehicle thefts. In 2019, as an adult, the defendant was charged for four separate incidents involving theft, motor vehicle theft, and rogue and vagabond in Chevy Chase, MD.  As a result, the defendant was placed on probation in January 2020 (C.R. #135619C) after being convicted of motor vehicle theft as an adult. 

Only a few weeks after being placed on probation, the defendant violated his probation by engaging in these additional motor vehicle thefts and burglaries. What is more, as part of his probation the defendant was ordered not to contact co-Defendant Azriel Echavarria. Yet, the defendant and Mr. Echavarria burglarized a home together in this case.

The defendant has played the lead role in these cases. These crimes were not committed rashly, rather they were calculated and organized and done for no other purpose other than to fulfill the defendant’s own greed.  Although these crimes are property related, the defendant’s actions have displayed a complete disregard for the safety of other human beings, as well as no respect for the property of others. To further develop his reputation as a ringleader, the defendant was active on social media and posted Instagram stories of his spoils.

After committing these offenses and pending forensic analysis, the defendant was also convicted of burglary II and illegal possession of an unregistered handgun in the District of Columbia. 

VICTIM IMPACT

In this case, the damage to the victims’ totals $450,300.00 worth of motor vehicles and high-end performance bicycles. The defendant preyed and capitalized on his victims when residents were required to follow stay-at-home orders. Following these victimizations, each victim felt unsafe in their homes: one of few locations where the State of Maryland advised residents to seek refuge.  

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