April 9, 2011

Sentencing postponed for District man charged in Brian Betts murder case

The sentencing of the third man involved in the murder of Brian K. Betts was postponed Wednesday in Montgomery County Circuit Court after prosecutors cited a recent development in the case that could affect the judge's decision.

Deontra Q. Gray, 19, of the 1300 block of Southview Drive in Oxon Hill, was scheduled to be sentenced Wednesday after pleading guilty to robbery and a handgun charge Jan. 26. The sentencing will be held instead on May 13 to allow assistant state's attorneys Sherri D. Koch and Mary C. Herdman time to investigate additional information in the case that they said was only recently developed. Koch declined to comment on the postponement or disclose the nature of the information cited in court when reached for comment Friday afternoon.

Barbara Graham, Gray's private defense attorney, said she was frustrated by Judge Eric M. Johnson's decision to allow the delay, especially because neither Koch nor Herdman offered any details.

"Without telling us anything about what this information related to, the court has decided to grant the continuance," she said outside Johnson's Rockville courtroom. "They have [Gray's] record, they should have all the evidence related to the crime; I mean, they've sentenced two [of Gray's co-defendants] already."

Members of both Gray's and Betts' families were present in the courtroom Wednesday, but neither family wished to comment on the case.

So far Herdman and Koch have overseen the sentencing of two of the four defendants charged in the murder of Betts—the former principal of the District's Shaw at Garnet-Patterson Middle School—in his home in Silver Spring last April 14.

Alante Saunders, 19, of the 5300 block of Third Street in Northwest, who police and attorneys say planned the robbery and fired the shot that killed Betts, received 40 years in jail after pleading guilty to first-degree murder. Joel Danay Johnson, also 19, of the 4300 block of Third Street, was sentenced to 18 months after pleading guilty as an accessory after the fact to first-degree murder. SOURCE: Gazette

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