The adopted daughter of former President George W. Bush’s Director of National Intelligence John Negroponte has been found guilty of murder in connection to the deadly stabbing of a 24-year-old man after a drunken argument inside a Maryland Airbnb nearly three years ago.
A Montgomery County jury on Tuesday convicted Sophia Negroponte, 29, of second-degree murder in the February 2020 death of Yousuf Rasmussen, according to news reports.
She faces up to 40 years in prison at sentencing on March 31.
Sophia Negroponte was one of five abandoned or orphaned Honduran children that John Negroponte and his wife, Diana, adopted after Negroponte was appointed as U.S. ambassador to the Central American country in the 1980s, according to The Washington Post.
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Sophia Negroponte and Rasmussen attended the same Washington high school and had been drinking, along with another person, on the night Rasmussen was killed, Montgomery County State’s Attorney John McCarthy said. They argued twice that night and Rasmussen left the home.
When Rasmussen returned to get his cellphone, Negroponte “stabbed him multiple times, one being a death blow that severed his jugular,” McCarthy said.
A 911 call prompted county and city officers and fire rescue personnel in Rockville, Maryland, to respond to an Airbnb property on Feb. 13, 2020, at approximately 11:16 p.m. Negroponte, then 27, was found inside the home covered in blood and lying on top of Rasmussen yelling, “I’m sorry,” according to charging documents obtained by Fox News Digital.
Rasmussen was pronounced dead at the scene, and Negroponte was brought into custody, where she allegedly told investigators that she did not remember attacking the man but recalled arguing over a “silly issue” and later removing a knife from his neck.
Defense attorney David Moyse had urged jurors to consider that Sophia Negroponte was so intoxicated that night that she couldn’t form specific intent.
“Alcohol pervades this case from the start; it pervades her life,” he said, adding, “and it is absolutely at the heart of what happened there that night. And it’s one of the major reasons that this is absolutely not a murder.”
Jurors did not find Negroponte guilty of the most serious charge she faced, first-degree, premeditated murder, according to the Post. But they convicted her of second-degree murder, finding that she intended “to inflict such serious bodily harm” to Rasmussen “that death would be the likely result.”
Montgomery County Circuit Court Judge Terrence J. McGann ordered her bond revoked, noting that Rasmussen was “taken from this earth, at a very young age with his whole life ahead of him, in such a horrific way.”
“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,” the Rasmussen family said in a statement. “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,” the statement added.
After the verdict, John Negroponte, 83, said his family will discuss a possible appeal with their attorneys.
“Neither the prosecutors nor perhaps the jury took into sufficient consideration the complexities and mitigating circumstances of the case — Sophia’s past trauma and other factors that led to a very troubled existence. She’s had severe alcohol use disorder,” John Negroponte said.
“We love and care for this young lady very, very much,” he added. “We don’t want to see her life wasted in prison.”
The Post reported that the elder Negroponte had sat in the front row of the courtroom every day of the trial and said that his daughter had been sober for the past nearly three years after moving in with him and his wife and quitting drinking after the deadly stabbing.
President George W. Bush appointed John Negroponte as the nation’s first intelligence director in 2005 following the 9/11 terrorist attacks. He later served as deputy secretary of state. He also previously served as ambassador to Honduras, Mexico, the Philippines, the United Nations and Iraq.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.