Washington sentenced to 195 months in cold case murder


A Minneapolis man was sentenced to 195 months in prison for murdering 58-year-old Michael “Sonny” Portlance in 2013, Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman announced Thursday.

Marvin Washington Jr., 52, pleaded guilty Nov. 26 to second-degree murder and was sentenced Monday to more than 16 years in prison.

According to the criminal complaint, police found Portlance dead and naked behind a Minneapolis business in the 2600 block of Nicollet Ave S. on Oct. 4, 2013.  A medical examiner’s autopsy ruled he died from a blunt force injury.

Police obtained surveillance video from nearby businesses, which showed two men pushing a garbage can at 1:29 that morning. However, no leads surfaced until February 2017 when a person told police they had knowledge of Portlance’s murder and said the person responsible was Washington. The person also said a number of witnesses were present when the murder occurred at an apartment in the 2600 block of Second Avenue South, the complaint states.

Officers interviewed the witnesses. One woman said she was with Washington and two other men when they came across Portlance, near the 2200 block of First Avenue South, while walking to a liquor store. Portlance joined the group and they went back to an apartment that belonged to one of the men. Once inside, they consumed crack cocaine that Washington provided. Portlance did not have money to pay Washington for the drugs, but provided his EBT card. The men checked the balance on the card and learned there was no money on it. Washington became angry and began beating Portlance, punching him and kicking him in the head and body until he became unconscious, according to the complaint.

This witness also said that Washington left the apartment and returned later that evening with another man and a garbage can. Washington removed Portlance’s clothing and placed the body in the can. He and the man left the apartment with it, according to the complaint.

The man who helped Washington dispose of Portlance’s body said Washington told him “he messed up and killed a man.”

In court on Monday, an advocate read several impact statements from Portlance’s family members.

“I know Michael is gone, but perhaps, his [Washington’s] incarceration can save another family from having to feel the pain we feel,” the advocate read from Portlance’s sister’s statement. “I can only hope that Mr. Washington takes his time in prison to make positive changes in life. To seek help with any addiction or anger issues he may have that put him on the path that led him here today.”

Washington apologized to the family and said he never intended on killing the victim.


Criminal Complaint (PDF)