JUST IN: Man convicted of throwing woman out of moving SUV near Ballston

The woman who was injured after being pushed out of an SUV near Ballston (via GoFundMe)

A Maryland man faces up to life in prison after being convicted of severely injuring a young woman who mistook him for a rideshare driver.

An Arlington jury on Thursday convicted Willie James Clements Jr. of aggravated malicious wounding and hit and run for the May 15, 2022 incident.

Clements was driving a black SUV when Maryna Kapovska, then 25, tried to get in, mistaking it for her ride home from a night out in D.C. Clements drove Kapovska around the city, then to her house in Arlington, but kept driving and shoved her out of the moving vehicle onto Wilson Blvd, prosecutors say.

Kapovska, who is originally from Ukraine, suffered “severe head trauma” and is still recovering from a traumatic brain injury. A GoFundMe campaign raised just over $50,000 for her medical care.

Clements was arrested a few months later, after a dogged police investigation. The 61-year-old could face up to life in prison at his sentencing, scheduled for May 3, according to prosecutors.

No motive for the crime was given in the press release, below, from the Office of the Commonwealth’s Attorney.

Today, following four days of trial, Willie James Clements Jr., was convicted by a jury of aggravated malicious wounding and hit and run for throwing Maryna Kapovska from a moving car.

On May 15, 2022, around 2:30 a.m., Mr. Clements picked up Ms. Kapovska from a night out in Washington, D.C. All she wanted was to come home to Arlington, and called a ride share to pick her up. She tried the back door of Mr. Clements’ car, thinking it was her ride share, but the door was locked. Mr. Clements unlocked the front seat and welcomed her in. Instead of telling her she had the wrong car – that he was not there to pick her up – he drove around DC, then to her house, then away from her house, and onto Wilson Blvd., where he pushed her out of his moving car. She tumbled to the ground, and sustained severe head trauma. He drove away, without slowing down.

Witnesses had seen her being pushed out of a car, came to her aid, and called the police immediately. But police had no leads. Dogged and innovative investigative work – chasing down every possible lead and using every available technology – on the part of the Arlington County Police Department solved the mystery of who had done this.

The prosecution team, Nassir Aboreden and Abhi Mehta, handled novel issues of law and brought the pieces of the investigation together to tell a story that, because of her severe injuries, Ms. Kapovska could not remember.

Our victim witness advocates, led by Lydia Hatcher, stood by her side for nearly two years, including sitting on either side of her throughout the trial.

“Ms. Kapovska’s survival was nothing short of miraculous, and she continues to recover with the support of her family – and of course, she will always have the support of our team,” said Commonwealth’s Attorney Parisa Dehghani-Tafti. She has demonstrated strength and courage throughout her recovery and this case. We hope today’s verdict helps her on the path to healing. As always, regardless of what the verdict is, I am grateful to the jury for their service to the community.”

Sentencing is scheduled for May 3, 2024. Mr. Clements faces up to a life sentence for the aggravated malicious wounding and ten years for the hit and run.