Columbia man sentenced to 30 years for killing teen

Monday, June 10, 2013 | 5:56 p.m. CDT

COLUMBIA — Fifteen months after firing two shots from his car and hitting the wrong man, Anthony Graves is headed to prison.

Convicted in the March 12, 2012, murder of 17-year-old Deaudre Johnson, Graves was sentenced Monday to 30 years in prison.

Graves, 20, was found guilty in May of second-degree murder, armed criminal action and unlawful use of a weapon for the shooting death of Johnson at Trinity Place and Switzler Street.

Circuit Judge Kevin Crane sentenced Graves to 30 years for the murder conviction, 20 years for armed criminal action and 15 years for unlawful use of a weapon. The sentences are to be served concurrently.

At his trial, Graves testified that after an encounter with Kentavie Mullins on the night of the killing, he fired his .22-caliber revolver in self defense from his car at a small group of people that included Mullins, with whom he was having an ongoing feud.

Graves also testified that he shot from his vehicle after hearing a "loud pop" hit his car that he believed to be gunfire.

Mullins testified that shortly after he had an argument with Graves, the defendant drove past Johnson, Mullins and his brother and fired two shots from the vehicle, striking Johnson.

Que'monn Wilkerson, a passenger in the vehicle Graves was driving, testified that Graves had told him that Mullins was the intended target of the shooting.

Before Graves' sentencing, Johnson's aunt, Shirlene McClain, read a statement before the court. She described Johnson as "happy and loved," a young man who dreamed of playing college basketball and learning to become an electrical engineer.

"We — his friends and family — are left with a giant void of emptiness," McClain said.

Her voice began to crack as she finished her statement: "Mr. Graves did not just take one life. He took a family's."

Graves' attorney, public defender David Wallis, asked Crane to sentence his client to 20 years for the murder charge, 20 for armed criminal action and 15 for unlawful use of a weapon.

"We're asking this court to believe there's some good and some rehabilitative quality within Mr. Graves," said Wallis. No one else spoke on Graves' behalf.

Boone County assistant prosecutor Stephanie Morrell argued that Graves didn't take  responsibility for his actions during the trial and asked that Crane follow the jury's recommendation and sentence Graves to serve a total of 65 years.

After the sentencing, Crane asked Graves if he felt he had been adequately represented by his attorney.

Wallis whispered in his client's ear, and Graves told the judge that he was dissatisfied with his defense. He told Crane his attorney had not adequately prepared for his defense and failed to present evidence at the trial that might have secured his freedom. He mentioned the failure to present evidence about a bullet hole found in his vehicle, which might have lent credibility to the self-defense argument.

Crane replied there was no cause to believe Graves had not been properly represented by Wallis. He asked the defense attorney if he still intended to appeal.

Wallis said he did.

Crane turned back to Graves. "Mr. Graves, it's a bad, bad situation," he said. "When you're out on the street, I sense you're a different person than you are right now."

Crane said he thought Graves seemed remorseful but was responsible for the shooting.

Graves had no response.

Supervising editor is Katherine Reed.

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