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Deonte White could get up to 40 years in prison when he is sentenced in July.
REBECCA BARNETT | The Roanoke Times
Deonte White (left) pleaded guilty to second-degree murder and using a firearm to commit the crime in Roanoke Circuit Court.
Friday, April 19, 2013
The 20-year-old man charged in a deadly shooting last summer in northwest Roanoke entered a plea in the case Friday, less than a week before he was set to go to trial.
“I plead guilty,” Deonte White said, quietly, to an amended charge of second-degree murder at a noontime hearing in Roanoke Circuit Court. He also pleaded guilty to using a firearm to commit the crime and was convicted on both counts by Judge Charlie Dorsey.
When he’s sentenced July 2, he’ll face a possible prison term of between five and 40 years in the killing and a mandatory three years on the gun charge. He was initially indicted in August on a first-degree murder charge, which could have sent him to prison for life.
White was charged with the fatal July 24 shooting of Emmanuel Dewayne Brown.
Brown, 26, was found gunned down in the driveway of a home in the 3500 block of Courtland Road.
Assistant Commonwealth’s Attorney William Braxton said during the hearing that the incident occurred not long after White allegedly spat on the mother of Brown’s child and threw a stick at her. The two men were arguing about that clash in the hour after midnight, just before a single shot rang out.
“Emmanuel Brown had been shot directly through the heart,” Braxton said. “The victim would’ve died almost immediately.”
He said had the case gone to trial, he would’ve presented testimony from several eyewitnesses who saw White with a gun in his hand that night. 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,” and that White appeared to have thrown something out of Stephens’ car window, Braxton said.
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.
Immediately after the shooting that night, White went to visit his girlfriend, then his mother, and then turned himself in to police, Braxton said.
Shawn Potter, White’s defense attorney, said he planned to present “significant mitigating evidence” at the sentencing.
In September, police seized records related to White’s Facebook page, according to a warrant filed in Roanoke Circuit Court.
According to the warrant, White’s Facebook account was being maintained by someone else while he remained in custody, and police believed White was Facebook friends with possible witnesses in the case.
The warrant said investigators have “knowledge of personal threats against complying witnesses,” but police spokeswoman Aisha Johnson said soon after the search that no one had been charged with making threats in the case.
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