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Va. man found guilty in deaths of W.Va. woman and her 3-year-old son

July 16, 2012|By MATTHEW UMSTEAD | matthew.umstead@herald-mail.com
  • Angela Devonshire and Andre White
Submitted photo

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. — A Lorton, Va., man accused of killing a Berkeley County, W.Va., woman and her 3-year-old son before setting their apartment on fire in 2010 was found guilty Monday by a Berkeley County jury of all three charges he faced.

A jury of eight women and four men found Antonio Prophet, 36, guilty of two counts of first-degree murder and one count of first-degree arson in the deaths of Angela Devonshire, 22, of Bunker Hill, W.Va., and her son, Andre White.

Prophet is scheduled to be sentenced Sept. 10 by 23rd Judicial Circuit Judge Christopher C. Wilkes.

 Each of the murder convictions comes with a life sentence with no opportunity for parole because the jury did not recommend mercy. Prophet faces a sentence of two to 20 years for the arson conviction.

Prophet shook his head slightly and looked down at the defense table after a Berkeley County deputy circuit clerk read the first of three guilty verdicts by the jury at 4:16 p.m.

Devonshire’s parents cried, and tears flowed from several others seated around them in the courtroom, which was staffed with more than a dozen court security and police officers for the announcement.

“My heart dropped when (she) was getting ready to read the verdict,” father Sydney Devonshire said after leaving the courthouse.

“Now, I can go down and buy some flowers and put on my daughter’s grave, and at least give me somewhat closure, even though I can’t bring them back,” Devonshire said.

Devonshire said he wanted to thank the jury, as well as Berkeley County Prosecuting Attorney Pamela Games-Neely, the Berkeley County Sheriff’s Office and the community.

Games-Neely said she also wanted to thank the sheriff’s office for its work on the case.

“I’m glad (the jury) saw through (Prophet’s) story,” Games-Neely said.

Defense attorneys B. Craig Manford and Christopher Prezioso declined to comment as they left the judicial center.

Prophet, who testified for more than four hours in his own defense last week, claimed two armed men, one with a gun and one with a knife, killed Angela Devonshire and her son.

Their bodies were found the morning of June 6, 2010, in the charred remains of her Cape Cod-style apartment, which was intentionally set on fire, according to testimony from an assistant state fire marshal during the trial.

The fire was reported at 4:36 a.m. by a passer-by.

Prophet, who didn’t deny being with the victims the night they died, said injuries to his hands and arm were evidence that he tried to fend off the supposed attackers.

While Prophet maintained his account was not a work of fiction like a crime novel he wrote, Games-Neely in closing arguments Monday reminded jurors that Prophet never told anyone the “elaborate” story he crafted until he took the witness stand.

“Who can verify a word of what he says? Angela Devonshire and Andre White. And they’re dead; they can’t say,” she said.

Games-Neely cited how Prophet’s book, “Enter the Fire: Seven Days in the Life,” includes arson and a home invasion similar to the 2010 homicides.

“It’s a story,” Games-Neely said of Prophet’s defense. “He writes fiction.”

Games-Neely suggested that Devonshire’s son was killed because he would have been able to identify Prophet, who was dating his mother.

“It would be very easy for a 3-year-old to say, ‘He hurt my mommy,’” Games-Neely said. The boy wouldn’t have been able to identify strangers, she said.

“This has been a very tragic case,” Manford said during his closing argument Monday morning.

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