19 year-old Alante Saunders was convicted of felony murder of Shaw Middle School Principal Brian Betts, and sentenced to 40 years behind bars.
Betts, who was found murdered in his Silver Spring, MD home last May, was an esteemed, loved and respected member of the DC and Maryland communities.
The late principal apparently met Saunders on a phone-sex chat line and agreed to leave his door unlocked for him, whereupon the killer(s) entered the residence and took Betts' life by gunfire.
Three other youths have been charged in the crime.
Urged by Betts’ family, Los Angeles celebrity attorney Gloria Allred said she plans to continue her pursuit of the murder as a hate crime, despite official’s contention that no evidence of anti-gay behavior was present. Allred claims the contrary.
Allred stated, “The family... retained me to explore whether or not Brian’s murder should also be prosecuted under the new Matthew Shepard federal hate crimes law... Brian was a gay man and we believe an investigation should be opened under that law to determine whether a hate crime has or has not been committed by defendant Saunders and if it has whether it is appropriate to proceed with a federal prosecution under that law.”
A second youth charged in the crime, Sharif Lancaster, also 19, pleaded guilty to robbery and possession of a handgun under a plea bargain, and is scheduled to be formerly charged on Feb. 11th. Discussions of the charges of the other two teen's involved, Joel Johnson, 19, and Deontra Gray, 18, are still pending, contingent upon on-going plea bargain arrangements.