Robbery Said to Be Motive in Diener Murder

by ARLnow.com January 4, 2012 at 4:35 pm 5,802 58 Comments

(Updated at 6:00 p.m.) New details are emerging in the 2009 murder of Lyon Village resident Carl Diener.

As ARLnow.com first reported yesterday, a suspect in the case, Roger K. Clark III, has pleaded guilty to first degree murder in the case. In a statement of facts entered as part of the guilty plea, prosecutors say robbery was the motive behind the murder — and that Clark wasn’t the only perpetrator.

According to the statement, Clark and his cousin, Javon Martin — then 20 and 24 years of age, respectively — were driving around Arlington County early on the morning of Dec. 29, 2009 looking for someone to rob. They encountered Diener, 57, near the intersection of N. 13th Street and N. Hudson Street, three blocks from the Clarendon Metro station. It was around 3:00 a.m. and Diener was on his way to a part-time job at a local health club, police said at the time.

During the robbery, prosecutors say, Clark punched Diener and then Martin stabbed him in the chest with a knife. Diener was later found lying on the street by a passerby who called police. Medics arrived on the scene and pronounced him dead. According to the statement of facts, Diener bled to death as a result of the stab wound, which severed two major arteries.

Clark’s DNA was found in several places, according to the statement, including on Diener’s palm and in his pants pocket, where Clark had looked for something to steal following the stabbing. In the end, Clark and Martin made off with Diener’s shoulder bag, according to prosecutors.

Clark’s plea was accepted yesterday afternoon by Circuit Court Judge Joanne F. Alper. He’s scheduled to be sentenced on April 27. As part of his plea deal, prosecutors agreed not to seek more than 25 years in prison.

Martin was arrested in June, two days after Clark was arrested, but ultimately prosecutors decided not to pursue the first degree murder charges against him at the time. The charges were dropped in October, according to court records. Martin is not currently in custody, according to Arlington County Commonwealth’s Attorney Theo Stamos, who declined to comment further.

Carl Diener’s sister, Patti Diener Lough, said Clark’s guilty plea is comforting to her family.

“Nothing — not even this guilty plea — can ever bring Carl back to his family and remarkable network of friends and colleagues from so many aspects of his life,” Diener Lough told ARLnow.com via email. “But we are immensely comforted to know that a murderer is in custody and will not be able to hurt another person or family like he shattered ours.”

  • Confused

    I’m confused.

    Clark and Martin were there. Clark hit and Martin stabbed. Clark pleads guilty, Martin is let go.

    The article then states:

    “Carl Diener’s sister, Patti Diener Lough, said Martin’s guilty plea is comforting to her family”

    Did Martin plead guilty ?

    Was the plea bargain to testify against Martin ?

    Is Martin to be arrested again ?

    What’s going on ?

    • Lou

      It’s a mistake in the article. Martin was released.

      I too hope they are not done going after this guy.

    • CW

      I don’t understand either. A punch gets a guilty plea to murder 1 and a stab severing major arteries and leading to a man bleeding to death gets you released?

      This only makes sense if they reel the second fellow back in and the first pled in order to testify against the second. I still don’t understand the murder 1 plea if all he did was punch though.

      Can someone with a J.D. make any sense of this?

      • Learned Elbow

        Under the common law, any death that occurs during a felony qualifies all the bad guys for 1st degree murder. So Bad Guy 1 is the get away driver, but Bad Guy 2 kills the victim — both Bad Guys 1 and 2 can be charged with 1st degree murder. (Victim could shoot and kill Bad Guy 1, and Bad Guy 2 still get 1st degree murder.) Why? The law wants to encourage Bad Guys not to be bad guys.

        (NOTE: Not positive Virginia follows this line of reasoning — or follows it to its extreme.)

        • drax

          Or maybe its because there’s DNA evidence for Clark, but not for Martin.

        • CW


      • a

        I’m guessing they only had Carter’s DNA on Diener and no murder weapon. Lets hope there is some sort of plea going on and Carter will testify against Martin.

    • That was an unfortunate typo. It should have referred to Clark.

      • R. Griffon

        Even if Clark was the one let go, then that’s still a GROSS miscarriage of justice.

        If you’re involved in the active (and PRE-MEDITATED) commission of a crime that results in an innocent person being killed, then you too should be guilty of murder and locked up for the rest of your days. At minimum, I’d say life for the murderer and 25 years for the accomplice.

        Great work by police. Abject failure by the courts.

        • Lou

          Well, this is tough, but look at this way. The statement in the article that Martin stabbed the victim came from Clark. There is no way Martin implicated himself that way, and there were no witnesses. No weapon was ever found and a long time passed before arrests were made.

          Only one person’s DNA was found (apparently), and that was from the guy who claimed the other guy did the stabbing. It’s unfortunate that the guy who did the stabbing (if you believe the other’s story) did not leave any markers behind. It’s almost unbelievable, if you get what I am saying.

          But Clark’s DNA tied him to the crime, and he was forced to accept a plea deal. They had close to zip on Martin. The police felt they could make an arrest, but I guess the prosecutors felt the investigation did not accumulate enough evidence to go to trial on Martin.

        • drax

          If you don’t have the evidence, you don’t have the evidence.

  • F

    I agree, this is confusing…

    I would hope that the plea deal involves Clark testifying against Martin. Maybe they did not find Martin’s DNA on Diener. It makes sense to make a deal with the guy who didn’t do the stabbing… hopefully Martin gets what’s coming to him.

    • CW

      I am wondering how credible Clark will be as a witness. They had no physical evidence on Martin. The only evidence will be the testimony of a guy who pled to murder 1 saying that the other guy was the real murderer. Not sure how that goes in a court of law but in the court of common sense I don’t know how trustworthy that fellow’s testimony would be, given his motivation to play the only bargaining chip he had to save him from the death penalty (a promise of testimony).

      • Lou

        I’m wondering what evidence they had to get the arrest warrant on Martin. He was arrested two days after Clark.

        • drax

          Probably got it all from Clark. He probably said Martin did the stabbing. Not enough evidence on its own, since Martin would want to implicate someone else to get himself off.

  • Dan

    CW – it does not matter who did the stabbing, punching etc… If two people are in a joint enterprise and commit a felony, all members of the group are responsible for it. For example, in a bank robbery, the get away driver who never gets out of the car can be charged with first degree murder if someone inside the bank gets killed.

  • PotentialSlacker

    So, what to do if you are being robbed? I say keep your distance. Throw the money on the ground and run. If they come after you, then they want something more. I wonder if that is then the time to use that concealed weapon (permit permitting, of course) that you are glad you have but hoped you’d never need.

    Just the scenario in my mind right now…Each story like this pushes me in the direction of getting my CWP.

    • PotentialSlacker

      This is only my opionion. I do not have any law enforecment training. Though, I’d be curious to hear advice on this scenario from someone who does.

      • ernie

        pull out yer 9 and let one slip… a 38 works too, a little more stopping power.

        • Better to be judged by your peers than carried by them.

          • Josh S

            Not sure that’s ALWAYS the case……

          • You’d rather be dead than stand trial and speak your case for why you are alive?

      • jan

        You’re assuming you’d have a chance to recover from the surprise, reach and pull out the weapon, aim and fire.

        Why do you think so many police officers are killed?

        • justSayin

          I’ll take my chances with the “recover from the surprise, reach and pull out the weapon, aim and fire” vs standing there and taking the business end of whatever weapon the attacker(s) might have.

          How many police officers are killed, btw? You are inferring that cop deaths, of which you believe there are an abnormally high amount of vs other professions, are the result of them not being able to draw and fire a weapon.

          • Grammarian

            No, he IMPLIED it, not inferred it.

          • jan

            I did not state or imply that cops have an unusually high occupational death rate. In fact, truck drivers have a higher rate.

            Couthouse Chris’s attached article is excellent.

    • CourthouseChris

      Security expert Bruce Schneier (granted, his expertise is not in personal physical security) reccomended in his recent newsletter the following article on preventing personal violence, it is a thoughtful and worthwhile read:


      • PotentialSlacker


        This article is probably the best I have ever read on the issue. It’s not paranoid and is extremely logical and well-informed. Thanks for sharing. I’ll bookmark the article for later reads.

        Still makes me want to get a CWP

      • Wow

        Dude, awesome article, thanks for posting it! It really breaks down what you need to survive in the real world, not the Rambo fantasy world.

    • KalashniKEV

      “I say keep your distance. Throw the money on the ground and run.”

      LOL… CCW or not, are you for real???

      So… anybody who wants your wallet automatically gets it?

      • Jon

        If they want it and they’ve caught me alone at night, they’ve already won. It’s theirs.

        • KalashniKEV

          If I approached you in a brisk, aggressive, but non-threatening way and said, “PLEASE GIVE ME YOUR WALLET!!!” would you do it???

          I don’t think it would be a robbery, since it’s a polite request and not a command…

          • CW

            I think most banks in Arlington would disagree!! To them, “Hi, I’d like to get some money” is considered a robbery!

          • Jon

            First of all, how many robbers like those two fellows use, let alone know, the word “please?” Secondly, the OP said “robbery” and not “polite request.” You added that part. Obviously, polite, non-threatening requests aren’t going to elicit the same response from either me or the OP.

      • CW

        I would like to see an analysis of instances of violent crime and a listing of times when use of a concealed weapon would have been 1) justified and 2) feasible. I realize that #1 varies by state, but it’s #2 that really makes me curious. There are exceptions, yes – that lady who rightfully shot the intruder the other day in Oklahoma, to much gun-rattling from the 2nd amendment crowd comes to mind. But I feel that in the vast, vast majority of encounters with a true criminal who is not afraid of committing acts of violence, by the time the victim is aware, it is too late.

        Yes, I realize that the answer is heightened SA by all individuals at all times!!

        • KalashniKEV

          Those studies are completely farcical, since attacks are almost always complex in nature. “Feasible” and “Non-feasible” would be nice terms to apply though… if it were in any way possible.

          After you are “alerted” to the presence of a threat, you “assess” the threat and “respond.” How you respond is situational dependent. This is related to your level of preparedness. Your level of preparedness is up to you- it’s a choice you make.

          Also, there is no “True Criminal” or “Un-true Criminal” either… and you can’t second guess the actions of the victim. No exceptions.

          • CW

            Fair enough on all points, but I guess my point was that in the case when they are “alerted” to a threat in the form of a criminal jumping them from behind and throwing them to the ground, there is not much that a typical civilian can do in the assessment and response departments. I just have a feeling that most of these crimes don’t occur with the perp jumping out of the bushes at CCW firing range and slowly advancing on the victim in a clear line of sight.

          • Wow

            KKK, you should read the article Courthouse Chris posted. It’s excellent, and I think you would gain from studying it.

      • Say…. “ok, here’s my wallet.”. Reach into your pocket and grab the .38 snub nose and put 6 in them.

  • JimPB

    From this account, it sounds like justice was only partly done. Transparency and accountability for the actions of the Commonwealth’s attorney’s office are in order.

    Where did the two perps live?
    Were they gainfully employed? By whom, for what work?
    DId they have a prior criminal record?

  • MC

    I’m happy Arlington had no murders last year, but this case reminds us all that random murder is very possible on our fair streets. Given how perplexing this case was at the time, I have to salute the police for taking it this far, even if it doesn’t feel fulling closed.

  • brendan

    congrats to the ACPD for solving this… hope the other guy faces charges tho, he was an active participant in a robbery that resulted in a homicide. that has to count for something… 20 years would be acceptable.

    curious to learn more about the crime. they sound like pieces of scum tho. killing someone during a bank robbery is idiotic, killing someone random to steal a wallet?!? ridic.

  • ArLater

    ArlNow, does it say anywhere where these men have residence? Are they from Arlington or did they cross the river from the other side of town?

    • Michael

      The Washington Post reports that Clark, from Severn, Md., was arrested in Annapolis for assault and robbery three months before the murder. He served no jail time. My father is a retired police officer from Annapolis, and he spent most of his career rearresting the same people over and over, only to have them be released by the Maryland judicial system. Both of us are happy to no longer live in Maryland.

      • Paco Wellington III

        The Maryland judicial system is something very strange. A relative was arrested for drunk driving, fleeing, and running red lights. The judicial system allows for “probation before judgment” which basically means a slap on the wrist and NO record — none, not even of the arrest. Apparently, the “probation before judgment” is used very frequently for all types of crimes. In addition, the Washington Post ran a series a few years back detailing how the Maryland judicial system allows a judge to resentence years later when victims are not paying attention and resentencing vastly reduces the time served. The criminals know the system well and have little to fear.

  • James in EFC

    From the ACPD press release when they were arrested:
    “Detectives have conducted an extensive investigation over the past year and a half and obtained warrants charging Roger K. Clark III, 20, of Severn, Maryland, and Javon Martin, 24, of Washington D.C. with Murder. Roger Clark III, was arrested on June 6, 2011, and Javon Martin was arrested on June 8, 2011. They are pending extradition to Virginia.”

  • D’ood

    Makes me glad VA has the death penalty.

    • CW

      I doubt he pled in order to receive a death sentence. Sorry.

      • ArlingtonWay

        He pled so he wouldnt. Thats what death penalty opponents prrely mention.

        • CW

          Are you a cat?

          • Josh S

            Now THAT’S funny.

        • drax

          Unfortunately, that also means many accused who are NOT guilty plead guilty to avoid death.

      • Not Larry Sabato

        I don’t think this was a death penalty eligible crime. The only thing I can see that would be close would be if felony robbery was also committed at the same time- but if all he had stolen was his gym bag, the contents may not have been valuable enough to be felony robbery. Remember, not all 1st degree murders are death penalty eligible in VA.

  • PikerGirl

    Clark was arrested in connection with a robbery and assault in Annapolis about three months before Diener was killed, according to online court records. Investigators matched his DNA, found in the pockets of Diener’s sweatpants, to DNA captured by police in Maryland.


  • Justin

    “Martin is not currently in custody…”


  • Unbelievable

    all i know is. Roger i forgive you and i will keep your nd your mother in my prayers. these ppl don’t know you i do. something must have went terribly wrong. nd you made a huge mistake. but this should never be held against you. i hope you do alot of soul searching nd reflecting on your life and your friends. you are the company you keep. remember that.


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