Men sentenced for 2-year-old Detroit girl Makanzee Oldham's deadly shooting
Cleveland and Antoine Smelley both pleaded guilty
DETROIT – Two men who pleaded guilty to charges in the shooting death of a 2-year-old Detroit girl last year were sentenced Thursday.
Makanzee Oldham died in a hospital days after she was shot May 25, 2016 while she sat in a vehicle in the 14000 block of Fairmont Street. A fight broke out, police said, and Makanzee was struck by gunfire.
Three men were charged in her murder. Cleveland Smelley, the accused gunman, his brother Antoine Smelley and Deonta Bennett faced eight counts of assault with the intent to murder. Cleveland Smelley also faced a felony firearm charge (second offense). Antoine Smelley faced a felony firearm charge and a felonious assault charge.
The Smelley brothers both pleaded guilty to second degree murder. Cleveland Smelley also pleaded guilty to the felony firearm charge (second offense), which means he faces a mandatory 5 years in prison in addition to what he will face for the second degree murder charge. Antoine Smelley also pleaded guilty to his felony firearm charge and faces a mandatory 2 years in prison in addition to his second degree murder sentencing.
Bennett pleaded guilty to second degree murder felony firearm earlier this year. He was sentenced in January to at least 10 years in prison.
Antoine Smelley was the first to be sentenced Thursday morning by Judge Ulysses Boykin at the Frank Murphy Hall of Justice in Detroit. The victim’s mother, Marquia Crosby, addressed the court.
“Ten years from now, he gets to see his daughter,” the mother said. “He should get more time. He doesn’t deserve to have freedom.”
The judge asked Antoine Smelley if he had anything to say to the court.
“I ain’t got nothing to say,” he said.
Antoine Smelley, 33, was sentenced to at least 10 years in prison.
Cleveland Smelley, 31, was sentenced next. Crosby spoke again.
"I don't believe that God would give the devil a gun to take my daughter's life," said Crosby. "On behalf of her daddy, he's hurting ... I can never get over this. My life is not the same ... I hope every day (Smelley) wakes up he sees the image of him shooting my daughter. I hope he feels pain, I do ... there are no words I can use to describe how I feel."
Cleveland Smelly offered an apology and said he never intended to shoot a little girl.
"I never knew a girl was in the car. I am standing here today, accepting my responsibility ... I apologize," he said.
He was sentenced to at least 35 years in prison.
"This was totally senseless," said Judge Boykin. "It happens time and time again. All you can do at this point is remove from society the people who are committing these offenses."
Juice spilled on prom dress
The Wayne County Prosecutor's Office said it all started when Antoine Smelley poured juice over a woman's head as she was getting ready to attend prom. He's also accused of a pulling out a handgun and threatening the young woman and her friends.
Cleveland Smelley and Bennett soon met up with Antoine Smelley at the home. A fight between the men erupted inside the home before it moved outside and several more people became involved. Bennett allegedly gave Cleveland Smelley a handgun, which he is accused of using to open fire at a car. Little Makanzee was hospitalized in serious condition for days before she died.
"They don't deserve to be on the streets and justice needs to be served," Qiana Moore said.
The suspects' family were in court concerned with the fact all three men are behind bars. The defendant's family said Cleveland Smelley fired the gun, but only to defend himself.
"I've been crying about the baby every day," Kamika Smelley said. "Crying for my cousins because they were good boys."
But Makanzee's family believes the actions of all three -- not one -- led to little Makanzee's injuries.
Men arrested next day
On May 26, 2016, Detroit Police Assistant Chief Steve Dolunt said his officers, and officers from Oak Park, arrested Cleveland Smelley at a motel near Hubbell and 8 Mile roads. He was a former parolee and considered armed and dangerous.
"This one hurt a lot," Dolunt said at the time. "When an innocent child gets shot over stupid stuff, I believe this was over a spilled Kool-aid or something, it’s just senseless. It used to be 'winner went to jail, loser went to the hospital.' But now, people don’t understand what conflict resolution is and they pull out a gun to show how bad they are. Now I’ve got a 2-year-old clinging to life, I’ve got some clown in custody who thought he was doing the right thing, and I’ve got a neighborhood up in arms."
Watch what Dolunt said after the arrest here:
Antoine Smelley and Bennett also were taken into custody that day.
Makanzee died in the hospital on May 30.
Too many child shooting victims
The 2-year-old's shooting happened the same day Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy held a press conference calling for adults to lock up their guns.
Worthy said gun violence involving children has become not only a crime issue, but a public health issue.
Worthy announced charges for the grandparents of a 5-year-old Detroit girl who died in May 2016 after shooting herself in the neck with a gun she found at their home with involuntary manslaughter, child abuse and other gun charges Wednesday.
Mariah Davis was being watched by her grandparents in their home on Oakfield Avenue when she found a gun under a pillow.
Charges were also announced Wednesday against the great-grandfather and mother of a 4-year-old who shot himself on Terry Street in November.
That month Worthy said Wayne County has had 8 children either killed or hurt by guns that they were handling in the last 17 months.
But far too often, Detroit children are victim to being in the wrong place at the wrong time.
In February, a 5-year-old girl was shot following a road rage incident while driving with her parents.
A driver opened fire on the family's vehicle in the 16000 block of Mark Twain Street. Maurbrya Cheatham was shot in the head. She made a full recovery.
On Easter Sunday, A'naiya Montgomery was shot multiple times while sleeping with her mother in a home on Riverview Street. She died on the way to the hospital.
In April, 6-month-old Miracle Murray was shot and killed on Winthrop Street. Her mother believes the shooting was in retaliation for the Easter Sunday shooting.
“I’m tired of kids getting shot,” Dolunt said. “Whether its carelessness with the weapons or blatant stupidity. We can only do so much. We can’t police stupid.”
Copyright 2017 by WDIV ClickOnDetroit - All rights reserved.