Woman’s murder conviction upheld in boy’s death

Oralandar Brand-Williams
The Detroit News

A 44-year-old woman convicted in connection with the kidnapping and slaying of a 13-year-old Detroit boy last year was denied her request to withdraw her guilty plea to second-degree murder Friday.

Third Circuit Court Judge Michael Hathaway did vacate Lillian Roberts’ guilty plea to unlawful imprisonment based on her claims that her attorney incorrectly told her that the conviction would not require her to register as a sex offender.

Under Michigan law, even if the crime was not of a sexual nature, a person convicted of unlawful imprisonment must register if the offense involved a victim under 18.

Roberts was sentenced to 24-40 years in prison for both the second-degree murder and unlawful imprisonment convictions. Both sentences were to run concurrently, so Friday’s ruling will not affect Roberts’ prison time.

Roberts pleaded guilty last November to the charges in connection with the death of Deontae Mitchell outside an east-side party store in May 2016.

The boy was kidnapped, beaten and murdered after Roberts became angry after finding out the teen had picked up about $80 she had dropped outside the store.

Authorities said Mitchell suffered extreme physical pain and mental anguish as he pleaded with Roberts and the two other kidnappers, Roberts’ son Ernest Coleman and her boyfriend Greg Walker, to free him while they drove him around Detroit for more than five hours. Walker is accused of beating and choking the boy.

Mitchell’s body was found in an east-side field June 2, 2016.

Thomas’ defense attorney, Lillian Diallo, cited a “human error” by her and the prosecutor in working out the plea agreement.

Walker received two sentences of 40-60 years in prison for second-degree murder and kidnapping, to be served at the same time. He also will serve a separate, consecutive two-year term for felony firearm.

Coleman, in his mid-20s, is accused of restraining Deontae while he was in the car with Walker and Roberts. Walker, 45, was arrested in Toledo.

The child, according to statements detailed during the preliminary examination in the court last June and July, asked Roberts, “You’re not going to let (Walker) hurt me, are you?”

Judge Shannon Holmes, of Detroit’s 36th District Court, said Roberts was there when Deontae was slapped and choked and then “dumped in a field like a piece of garbage.”

Holmes scolded Coleman, who drove the car containing the boy, for not calling the police and lying about details of the child’s kidnapping and murder.

“Mr. Coleman started out telling the truth but left out some things to either protect himself or his mother,” Holmes said.


(313) 222-2027