Last defendants in Deontae Mitchell murder sentenced to prison

Lillian Roberts, Gregory Walker plead guilty to murdering 13-year-old boy

By Priya Mann - Reporter, John Steckroth - Editor, Derick Hutchinson

DETROIT - Two of three people who pleaded guilty to the June killing of 13-year-old Deontae Mitchell were sentenced to prison Friday in a case that sparked an Amber Alert.

Lillian Roberts, 43, was sentenced to 24 to 40 years in prison. 

"I apologize for being here, for having (the judge) here wasting the court's time on this matter and I would like to apologize to the Mitchell family," Roberts said.

Deontae was kidnapped, tortured and killed in June. His body was found a day after he disappeared in a field on Detroit's east side.

Gregory Walker, 45, was sentenced to 40 to 60 years in prison for his role in Deontae's death.

Prosecutors said Deontae was killed for taking some cash that he saw on the ground. Walker is charged with beating the child and choking him to death.

"I would just like to say I'm sorry to the family," Walker said.

Roberts and Walker pleaded guilty to second-degree murder, kidnapping and felony firearms violations.

A third defendant, Ernest Coleman, pleaded guilty to torture, unlawful imprisonment, being a felon in possession of a firearm, third-offense habitual offender and felony firearms violations. He was sentenced to 12 to 15 years in prison and two years in prison for the felony firearms violations.

An Amber Alert was issued for Deontae on June 1.

What happened

Deontae was riding bikes with his cousin near Nino’s Market at 15901 E. Warren, police said. The boy's cousin told police that a drunken man dropped money while he was urinating outside the market, and Deontae picked it up.

The boys left the market on their bikes at about 10:30 p.m. Mitchell was grabbed soon afterward and was thrown into a dark-colored 2002 Chevy Impala. Video surveillance showed Deontae being pursued and grabbed.

An Amber Alert was issued and police soon identified Walker as a suspect.

The FBI joined the investigation and a citywide search was launched the next morning for Deontae. He was found in a field near Harper Avenue and Baldwin Street on the city’s west side. His mother identified him at the Wayne County morgue.

READ: Family positively identifies body found in Detroit field as Deontae Mitchell

READ: Vigil held for Deontae Mitchell

Suspects taken into custody

Police announced that they were looking for two other men in connection with the abduction: Coleman and Roy Portis.

Coleman was taken into custody June 2 and was later charged. Portis, 51, was taken into custody June 3 and was later released. He was never charged.

Walker was found at a motel in Toledo and was taken into custody June 2 along with Roberts. They were extradited to Detroit and charged.

READ: Suspect in abduction of missing Detroit teen arrested in Ohio

READ: 3 people charged with kidnapping, torture, murder of 13-year-old Deontae Mitchell

Testimony heard

Walker’s cousin, Anthony Young, took the stand and described the events of that evening. He said the boy was tied up in the back seat and was terrified, crying and pleading to be taken home. He also said the amount of money that the boy retrieved from the ground was $70.

READ: Preliminary hearing in Deontae Mitchell case reveals heartbreaking details

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