By Carly Lagrotteria and Eric Roper | The GW Hatchet
An Ethiopian man has pleaded guilty to the murder of 2007 alumnus Brian Adkins, a Foreign Service officer found dead in his Ethiopia home this February, according to Adkins’ family.
State Department officials told family members that a man named “Sammy” had admitted to beating Adkins to death with a baseball bat in the Ohio native’s African home. Sammy, a local man whose full name was not available, had met Adkins through mutual friends who frequently played video games at the house.
At a preliminary hearing on March 27, Sammy pleaded guilty to second degree murder and stealing Adkins’ possessions, said Dan Adkins, Brian’s father, in an interview. Dan Adkins added that prosecutors are seeking to convict the man of first degree murder, which could result in the death penalty.
Court proceedings are happening in the African country’s capital city, Addis Ababa, because the United States does not have an extradition treaty with Ethiopia. State Department officials did not return requests for comment.
Family members wrote in an e-mail to Brian’s friends and acquaintances that Sammy stayed overnight at the house after he and Adkins played video games late into the night. The house was adjacent to a series of Foreign Service Officers’ homes, and the compound was watched over by a guard and surrounded by concrete walls and razor wire, Dan Adkins said.
Sammy and Adkins began arguing the next morning and Sammy later told investigators he was afraid that the loud noises would alert the guard. He said he tried to quiet Adkins using a baseball bat, which was usually kept by the door for protection, and repeatedly hit him in the head and face as Adkins fell to the ground. The cause of the argument is unknown.
“I really need some closure on what caused the argument,” Dan Adkins said.
A funeral director in Cleveland later told Dan Adkins that the body was so damaged it could not possibly be restored for an open-casket funeral.
Upon fleeing Adkins’ house, Sammy took some of the 25-year-old’s belongings, which included a cell phone, a laptop computer and a camera. He left his own cell phone at the house, which investigators used as their primary lead in the case. Sammy was later apprehended in a village six hours from Adkins’ home with the belongings.
“So, in all, our son was killed for a few lousy bucks for his belongings on the street of Addis Ababa,” the family’s e-mail said. “What a terrible waste of a man, son, brother and a true friend to many.”
The family learned about the details of the case after State Department officials visited them at their home in late February. They have also been communicating with the U.S. Ambassador to Ethiopia Donald Yamamoto. The State Department told them they did not consider the murder to be connected with terrorism or political opposition to the Ethiopian government.
Adkins earned two degrees from GW – a bachelor’s degree from in 2005 and a master’s degree in 2007. While in Foggy Bottom he was active in the GW Knights of Columbus and the Newman Catholic Center.
On Friday, May 1, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is scheduled to preside over a ceremony honoring Adkins and three other Foreign Service officers who have died on duty. The four officers’ names will be inscribed on a memorial plaque in the State Department’s main lobby at their building adjacent to campus.
Adkins was in his first year of duty in the country, performing consular work including helping Americans in distress and handling visas and passports. He was scheduled to travel to Rwanda for several weeks on the day of his death to work in the U.S. Embassy there, Dan Adkins said.