After a defense attorney told a courtroom full of weeping family members that his client had not intended to shoot his girlfriend to death last year, a Toledo man was sentenced Tuesday to life in prison.
Dimitrias Graves, 27, of 658 Spring St. pleaded no contest to murder May 29 for the Oct. 23 death of his girlfriend, Mariah Wells, 22, of Newark, Ohio. Ms. Wells, a single mother, was caught in the line of fire when Graves fired several shots at three other women in front of his mother’s home. Graves also shot another woman, Erica Elmore, during the confrontation; a bullet grazed her right eye.
Defense attorney Don Cameron, representing Graves, emphasized in a statement to the court that Ms. Wells’ death was inadvertent. Still, Lucas County Common Pleas Judge Stacy Cook, who handed down Graves’ life sentence Tuesday, suggested that the facts of the case were relatively clear.
“There were two people hit,” Judge Cook said. “So there’s no doubt that [you had] a gun pointing toward people.”
Graves will be eligible for parole after serving 15 years in prison. At the sentencing, the court dismissed several other counts against Graves as part of his plea agreement — three counts of felonious assault, one count of improperly discharging a firearm into a habitation, and five firearms specifications.
The court also dismissed two counts of endangering children from a separate case.
Margaret Kirby, aunt of Ms. Wells, read aloud a letter from the victim’s godmother, Christine Nicholls, to the court before Graves was sentenced. The letter described Ms. Wells as a hardworking mother and said that family members have been left with a “void in our souls that will never be filled.” Other family members who attended grouped together afterward and expressed their grief.
“She’s something I think about all the time,” Ms. Kirby said. “I celebrate her days.”
Frank Allen, Jr., the victim’s uncle, added that Ms. Wells’ 4-year-old son is a comforting and important part of their lives.
“He keeps us going,” Mr. Allen said.
Contact Madeline R. Conway at: firstname.lastname@example.org, 419-724-6050, or on Twitter @MadelineRConway.