Speight, 23, pled guilty to second-degree murder while armed in connection with the case in October 2012.
Judge Russell Canan delivered the sentence in front of an emotional courtroom Friday afternoon.
“This was a gratuitous crime,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Holly Schick said at sentencing. “[The killing] was unnecessary, and it was over a mere $20.”
According to the government’s proffer of facts, around 11 p.m. on Jan. 19, 2011, Speight approached a woman near a small park in Truxton Circle and propositioned her for sex. The woman refused, so Speight rode his bicycle over to Mitchell, who was waiting at a bus stop near Florida Avenue and North Capitol Street Northwest.
Speight asked Mitchell for $20, but when he refused, the two men began arguing. The woman walked over to Speight and told him to leave Mitchell alone, and then tried to call police from her cell phone. Speight slapped the phone from the woman’s hands, and Mitchell jumped on Speight’s back.
Speight and Mitchell fell to the ground, and during the struggle Speight pulled a handgun. He then fired several shots into Mitchell’s torso. Mitchell later died at the hospital.
Several of Mitchell’s family and friends were in the courtroom for sentencing, many of whom had written victim impact statements to aid in the sentencing of Speight.
Canan called the letters “wonderful and very moving.”
Reading from one he quoted, “Please let Mr. Speight know that I do wish him well, and I hope that he too will one day know the true value of a life.”
Brian Walton, a friend of Mitchell’s, said Mitchell was fun-loving.
“[Mitchell’s name] still comes up in conversations because that’s the mark he left on those around him,” Walton said.
Mitchell was awarded a Medal of Valor for his actions in the park after his grandfather, a World War II veteran, appealed to the American Legion, Mitchell’s brother Brian said.
The American Legion Post 524 in Ocean City, NJ, issued the Medal of Valor to Mitchell for exhibiting “exceptional courage, attended by extraordinary decisiveness, presence of mind, an unusual swiftness of action, without regard for his own personal safety, intervened in an effort to save the individual from harm and did so at the expense of his own life.”
The Knights of Columbus Father Blake Council #2560 in Ocean City, NJ, also issued an award to Mitchell “to commemorate his exceptional courage and presence of mind, without regard for his own personal safety.”
Mitchell was not a military veteran.
Before sentencing, Speight’s father—Anthony Sr.—pleaded the court to show leniency.
“There’s no excuse for what happened that night,” Speight Sr. told the judge. “But he’s not a career criminal. He had a bad night, and it’s a sad, unfortunate incident.”
Speight Sr. told the court that Speight had been abused by his grandfather and neglected by his mother. Speight had trouble in school and turned to drugs, but joined the military and cleaned himself up, his father said, adding that he had been medically discharged.
After his discharge, he returned to dealing and using drugs; he admitted to the court that he was under the influence at the time of Mitchell’s murder.
“I want to apologize to the Mitchell family; I was wrong,” Speight said. “I didn’t think straight. I just acted.”
Judge Canan acknowledged Speight’s military service, dysfunctional upbringing and history of mental issues. But Canan also showed disappointment in the allegation that a few hours before Speight fatally shot Mitchell he had terrorized two college students during a drug purchase. Speight is scheduled to be tried for his actions in that case later this year.
A press release from the US Attorney’s Office is below. Sentencing documents have been added to this post.
District Man Sentenced to 21 Years in Prison For 2011 Murder in Northwest Washington
- Shooting Followed Attempted Robbery -
WASHINGTON - Anthony Speight, Jr., 24, of Washington, D.C., was sentenced today to a 21-year prison term for the January 2011 slaying of a man following a robbery attempt in Northwest Washington, U.S. Attorney Ronald C. Machen Jr. announced.
Speight pled guilty in September 2012 to a charge of second-degree murder while armed. He was sentenced by the Honorable Russell F. Canan in the Superior Court of the District of Columbia. Upon completion of his prison term, Speight will be placed on five years of supervised release.
According to the government’s evidence, on Jan. 19, 2011, shortly after 11 p.m., Speight was riding a bicycle at Florida Avenue and North Capitol Street NW. As Speight crossed the intersection, he approached a young woman and unsuccessfully propositioned her for sex. Turned away, Speight then continued across the intersection and approached William R. Mitchell, 33, who was walking home from a nearby Metro station.
While still on his bicycle, Speight demanded money from Mr. Mitchell. At some point during their exchange, the defendant lifted up his shirt, revealing a silver .357 revolver. The young woman, who was still nearby, intervened and told Speight that she would call the police if he did not leave Mr. Mitchell alone. She then pulled out her phone to call the police. Speight knocked the phone out of her hand and repeatedly ran over the phone with his bicycle.
Then, as the woman bent over to pick up her phone, Mr. Mitchell jumped on Speight’s back. Speight and Mr. Mitchell fell to the ground and struggled. During the struggle, Speight pulled out his revolver and shot Mr. Mitchell four times.
Speight is to stand trial in July 2013 in an unrelated case involving an armed carjacking that took place on the afternoon of Jan. 19, 2011 in Northeast Washington. He has pled not guilty to charges.
In announcing the sentence, U.S. Attorney Machen commended the efforts of the detectives and other personnel who investigated the case for the Metropolitan Police Department. He acknowledged the hard work and dedication of those who assisted with the investigation and prosecution at the U.S. Attorney’s Office, including Victim/Witness Advocate Marcia Rinker and Paralegal Specialist Debra Joyner. Finally, he thanked Assistant U.S. Attorneys Steven Snyder and Holly Shick, who investigated and prosecuted the case.