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Va. man sentenced to consecutive life sentences in deaths of W.Va. woman and her son

September 10, 2012|By MATTHEW UMSTEAD | matthew.umstead@herald-mail.com
  • Antonio Prophet
Submitted photo

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. —
MARTINSBURG, W.Va.

A Virginia man convicted of killing a woman and her 3-year-old son before setting their apartment on fire in 2010 was sentenced Monday to consecutive life sentences plus an additional 20 years in prison.

Antonio Prophet, 36, of Lorton, Va., was found guilty in July 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, who insisted he was innocent at his sentencing hearing, was given the maximum sentence by presiding 23rd Judicial Circuit Judge Christopher C. Wilkes, who cited at least two prior felony convictions among Prophet’s “extensive” criminal history dating to 1994.

Prophet also was ordered by Wilkes to pay $11,220.61 to the state Crime Victims Compensation Fund.

In court Monday, Devonshire’s father, Sydney Devonshire, looked at Prophet and asked him how he could kill his daughter and grandson.

“They were my world,” Devonshire said tearfully. “When you took their life, you took my life.”

The bodies of Devonshire’s daughter and grandson were found the morning of June 6, 2010, in the charred remains of her Cape Cod-style apartment at 69 Sydneys Way off Sam Mason Road, officials have said.

Prophet, who testified in his own defense at trial, again claimed Monday that he was a victim in the double homicide, and asserted that another man was responsible for sending two armed men to kill Devonshire and her son, and that they also assaulted him in a violent attack. 

“My innocence is my shield,” said Prophet, who began lengthy prepared remarks to the court by saying he was truly sorry for the loss experienced by the Devonshire and White families, and that he adored the victims.

Prophet criticized the police for being “shoddy” in their investigation, which he claimed “allowed the true killers of Angela and Andre to go free.”

He also said Berkeley County Prosecuting Attorney Pamela Games-Neely was guilty of misconduct, that his trial was not a search for the truth and suggested Wilkes was a clown, not a judge.

Prophet said it was baffling to him that the jury in his trial didn’t believe him and asserted they ran away from their responsibility when his testimony about what happened was “100 percent truthful throughout.”

Devonshire’s wife, who followed her husband to the podium to make a statement, told Prophet that he was just trying to hurt their family by his statements in court Monday.

“You are a liar, and the truth is not in you,” said Elizabeth Devonshire, who later stood in the courtroom gallery and defended the work of the court, the jury and the attorneys.

Andre’s aunt, Jackie Sheppard, told Prophet he was sick and said she couldn’t wait for him to get to prison, suggesting he would be punished by other inmates for his crimes, particularly for Andre’s death.

“You killed one of God’s angels,” family member Phillip Pugh told Prophet.

In asking Wilkes to order the maximum sentence, Games-Neely said Prophet is “probably one of the most callous defendants I’ve ever seen,” and shrugged off the man’s comments about her work and the court, saying they didn’t matter.

Wilkes, who denied post-trial motions for acquittal and a new trial before sentencing, told Prophet he was sorry he didn’t feel he received a fair trial. The judge also said he felt Prophet’s statement in court Monday showed the jury was not mistaken in reaching the guilty verdicts.

“The story you told (on the witness stand) was incredible and they were not going to believe it,” Wilkes said.

Prophet said he felt he and his attorneys, B. Craig Manford and Christopher Prezioso, did a sufficient job in proving his innocence.

Prophet said his decision to flee the scene the night Devonshire and her son were killed was admittedly “irresponsible and grotesque,” but he said his actions were triggered by an overwhelming sense of fear, and that he was confused and traumatized after being attacked himself.

Prophet addressed part of his statement to Andre’s father, saying he didn’t do enough to protect the child and his younger brother, Daronte.

Daronte White was found unharmed on a chair in a patio area of Devonshire’s parents’ home nearby after firefighters responded to the fire.

Prophet, who said he would never hurt a child, said more than once that his fight for justice was just beginning, and he would fight for the rest of his life if need be.

“I refuse to believe there is no justice in the world,” Prophet said.

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