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Posted at 11:20 AM ET, 01/26/2011

4th guilty plea in Betts case

By Dan Morse
Washington Post editors

The last of four 19-year-olds charged in the murder investigation of well-known principal Brian Betts pleaded guilty in Montgomery County Circuit Court Wednesday to lesser charges, bringing prosecution of the case to a close.

Deontra Q. Gray pleaded guilty to robbery and a weapons charge. Sentencing recommendations call for 16 to 27 years, according to court papers, although Gray's lawyer disputed that in court Wednesday, and the exact sentence will be debated at a future hearing.

Gray's trial had been set to begin Jan. 31.

Gray's lawyer, Barbara Graham, had long maintained that the evidence tying him to Betts's slaying was weak. She had said that Gray went to Betts's house the night the principal was killed, in April, but he never went inside the house.

Prosecutors have said he did go into the house, along with three others: Alante Saunders, Sharif Lancaster, and Joel Johnson. But on Wednesday that question was left open. Prosecutors said Gray knew Saunders was going to the house to rob Betts.

"He is owning up to what he did. He didn't know about the gun. He didn't go into the house, but he stole." Graham said.

Saunders has admitted to pulling the trigger during the course of a robbery. He was sentenced to 40 years in prison. Lancaster and Johnson have yet to be sentenced, according to court records.

After Betts was killed, his stolen credit cards were used. Gray was inside a store when one of the cards was used, Graham said. "His involvement was all after-the-fact," Graham said.

Lancaster's mother, Artura Williams, a relatively minor player in the case, also has pleaded guilty.


By Dan Morse  | January 26, 2011; 11:20 AM ET
Categories:  Dan Morse, From the Courthouse, Homicide, Montgomery  
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Comments


He wasn't going to make it in life with an moronic name like Deontra anyways.

Posted by: kenk33 | January 26, 2011 12:15 PM | Report abuse

max sentence!!

Posted by: 10bestfan | January 26, 2011 12:39 PM | Report abuse

"He is owning up to what he did. He didn't know about the gun. He didn't go into the house, but he stole." Graham said.

After Betts was killed, his stolen credit cards were used. Gray was inside a store when one of the cards was used, Graham said. "His involvement was all after-the-fact," Graham said.
++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Nothing like a court-appointed apologist to justify complicity in murder. He knew it was a robbery, but "he just stole."

He went to the robbery (before it happened), but "His involvement was all after-the-fact." And people wonder why the public finds criminal defense attorneys to be so despicable....

Posted by: IncredulousAsEver | January 26, 2011 1:55 PM | Report abuse

If someone goes with others to rob a bank, but sits in the get-away car, and then those who are robbing the bank kill someone, ALL are charged with murder. Why is it different in this case? All 4 of these thugs should have been given life terms, period.

The MoCo prosecutors are LAZY and decided it was easier to just get them to cop to lesser charges so as not to be bothered with having to go to trial. And this is what we pay taxes for?

Please, revoke the law licenses of the prosecutors for showing they have no understanding of the law. At the very least, they should all lose their jobs. Disgraceful.

Posted by: B-rod | January 26, 2011 3:24 PM | Report abuse

I legal system (ie: maze) in insanely complicated and flawed with loopholes. Justice officials are overworked. The best citizens can do is show up for jury duty.

Mr Betts was a good man and principal who cared about improving the futures of his students.

The "journalists" we rely on could do a better job of not perpetuating racially biased selections of murders to follow. A lot of people get killed in this city, but their lives are apparently worth less ink and pixels.

Posted by: Perseus | January 26, 2011 6:58 PM | Report abuse

I legal system (ie: maze) in insanely complicated and flawed with loopholes. Justice officials are overworked. The best citizens can do is show up for jury duty.

Mr Betts was a good man and principal who cared about improving the futures of his students.

The "journalists" we rely on could do a better job of not perpetuating racially biased selections of murders to follow. A lot of people get killed in this city, but their lives are apparently worth less ink and pixels.

Posted by: Perseus | January 26, 2011 7:06 PM | Report abuse

I agree with Kenk33, there is something about the made up names that perhaps has an ill effect on the personality of those children who are forced to grow up with those names.

Deontra! Either his will be a hardcore prisoner, or he will be someone's wife, if you know what I mean. My guess is that he will have his face buried in the pillow of his bunk.

Who's your daddy?

Posted by: Special_One40 | January 26, 2011 7:23 PM | Report abuse

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