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Deonte Orlando White in April pleaded guilty to second-degree murder in the shooting death of Emmanuel Dewayne Brown.
JOEL HAWKSLEY | The Roanoke Times
Annie Saunders (center), mother of Deonte Orlando White, reacts after her son was sentenced to a lengthy prison term.
JOEL HAWKSLEY | The Roanoke Times
Deonte Orlando White was sentenced to serve 28 years in prison in Roanoke Circuit Court on Tuesday. He had pleaded guilty in April to second-degree murder in the 2012 shooting death of Emmanuel Dewayne Brown.
Wednesday, July 3, 2013
A 20-year-old Roanoke man will serve about 28 years in prison for what a prosecutor called “the ultimate crime … the robbing of another person’s life.”
That sentence was handed down Tuesday in Roanoke Circuit Court to Deonte Orlando White, who in April pleaded guilty to second-degree murder in the shooting death of Emmanuel Dewayne Brown.
“He [Brown] had a community he was taken from, and there simply is no reason for this,” Assistant Commonwealth’s Attorney William Braxton said earlier in court.
Judge Charlie Dorsey gave White 40 years behind bars, to be suspended after he serves 25. White also admitted he used a gun to commit a killing and for that he received an additional three years, a mandatory minimum in Virginia.
Brown, 26 and a father of four, was found shot once in the chest in the driveway of a home in the 3500 block of Courtland Road.
Just before he died, Brown and White had been arguing about an incident in which White allegedly spat on the mother of Brown’s child and threw a stick at her. The two men clashed shortly after midnight July 24, just before witnesses heard a single shot ring out.
Braxton said at White’s April 19 plea hearing that Brown had been shot directly through the heart and died almost instantly.
He said then that several eyewitnesses saw White with a gun in his hand that night and that Trevante Stephens, a friend of White’s who reportedly drove him away from the scene, would have testified that White told him “I f----- up” as they went. He said Stephens also would have said White appeared to have thrown something out of the car window.
Although investigators found a shell casing and a slug near the site where Brown died, the gun that was used to kill him was never recovered.
At the plea hearing, White’s defense attorney, Shawn Potter, had said he planned to present “significant mitigating evidence” at the sentencing, but instead he spoke only briefly Tuesday about the disadvantages that led White to commit the shooting.
He cited White’s “learning disabilities and very low I Q ,” and also the lack of a role model in White’s life. He said White’s last memory of his father came from when White was 5 years old and was “severely punished” for soiling his own bed.
Potter also told the court that witnesses had overheard White saying “stop hitting me” as he argued with Brown.
“The evidence shows that Mr. Brown was the aggressor. That doesn’t excuse it [the shooting], but it makes it less aggravated,” Potter said. “White has taken full responsibility to the greatest extent that he possibly can.”
White, speaking in a deep, slow voice, apologized to Brown’s family and to his own as well.
Both sides of the courtroom gallery were filled with friends and relatives of both the defendant and the victim, and both sides reacted to the sentence with high emotions.
State prisoners with good behavior records generally serve about 85 percent of their sentences.
With credit for time already served, White could see release in a little more than 20 years, or sometime in his early 40s.
White, who turned himself in to police not long after the shooting, initially was indicted in August on a first-degree murder charge, which could have sent him to prison for life.
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