The family of a 17-year-old convicted of killing someone on Valentine’s Day 2021 is expressing outrage over her 140-year prison sentence.
Damia Mitchell of Gwinnett, Georgia, was accused of firing 19 shots at the home of an ex-girlfriend home in the town of Dacula on Valentine’s Day 2021, hitting and ultimately killing Faith Burns. Burns was not her ex, but rather a friend who happened to be at the residence at the time.
Prosecutors in the case alleged that Mitchell’s actions were also gang-related. Four other women came with her and took part in the shooting. They have also been charged but have yet to go to trial, according to the Gwinnett County District Attorney. On Monday, a judge passed down a 140-year prison sentence for Mitchell, prompting outrage and pushback from her family.
Speaking , mother Vanissa Jackson insisted that Mitchell had no record prior to the alleged incident and that someone else had carried out the shooting that killed Burns.
“I just know something needs to be done. What they did in court wasn’t right. She is not the shooter. She didn’t do this,” Jackson said.
The jury in her case did not find Mitchell guilty of murder charges but did find her guilty of voluntary manslaughter, three counts of aggravated assault, and eight counts of street gang terrorism. Around 80 of the years in her sentence were derived from the gang-related charges.
Lena Hall, Mitchell’s aunt, also lamented how such a sentence will derail her niece’s life.
“No record, a child,” Hall said. “She won’t even get the opportunity to live her life, have her own kids.”
Police and prosecutors presented Mitchell as someone with deep connections with street gangs in the area while presenting their case against her. This included showing texts and videos purporting to show her connections with violent gangs and her history of organizing street fights.
“They’ve always hung out together, so it’s not like they are in a gang,” another of Mitchell’s aunts, identified only as Dori, told WSB-TV. “They are a group of girls who like hanging out and doing typical things.”
Mitchell’s family planned to hold a protest against her sentence outside the county courthouse on Tuesday.
Newsweek reached out to the Gwinnett County District Attorney’s Office for comment.
Under Georgia law, participation in criminal gang activity carries a minimum jail sentence of five years and a maximum of 15. The punishment can also include a fine ranging from $10,000 to $15,000.