Saturday, August 25, 2012

Lynchburg, VA: Lynchburg woman sentenced to four years in stabbing death

That a Lynchburg woman did not intend to stab her boyfriend to death after an altercation last May was not in dispute Friday.

During the sentencing hearing for Lakita Lashea Miller on one count of voluntary manslaughter, Lynchburg Circuit Court Judge Patrick Yeatts called the stabbing a “tragic, senseless act.”

He sentenced Miller to the full ten years allowed under the voluntary manslaughter statute, but suspended six years of the sentence.

Miller maintained at her trial that she feared for her life when Phillips pushed her against a sink, claiming the stabbing was in self-defense.

Yeatts stood by his verdict, overruling her defense’s motion to set aside the May verdict Friday.

Miller stabbed Phillips twice the night of May 20, 2011 at Miller’s Old Forest Road apartment where Phillips, Miller’s mother, Miller’s two children and her mother’s boyfriend were staying.

Miller’s defense called eight witnesses, all of whom testified they had never known her to be violent.

Jacqueline Jones, who manages Lynchburg Community Action Group’s “Project Discovery” program, which assists youth trying to get to college, said she found Miller to be a “high achiever.”

“She was always on time … She was accepted at Virginia Commonwealth University because of her outstanding grades,” Jones said.

A friend testified Miller had to drop out of VCU after two years when she became pregnant.

The father of Miller’s two children, Catrel Morton, testified that during their four-year relationship he never witnessed any violence or inclination toward confrontations.

Miller’s mother also testified she’d never seen tendencies of violence in her daughter.

Senior Assistant Commonwealth’s Attorney Janell Johnson called only one witness: Phillips’ mother, Yvonne Phillips Taylor.

Taylor recalled her son as a man who liked to play basketball, hang out with friends, and loved his mother and grandmother.

“He wasn’t a violent person. He wasn’t a mean person. He wasn’t a thug. He was keeping his girl’s children,” she said.

Every time she closes her eyes, she sees her son’s smiling face, Taylor said.

“I miss that smile every day,” she said.

“Your child is not supposed to leave here before you do.”

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