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Mervin sentenced for murder

Montai Maurice Mervin, 23, of South Carolina, who was convicted in May of first degree murder in Lunenburg Circuit Court was sentenced Monday by Circuit Court Judge J. William Watson Jr., according to a news release from the Lunenburg Commonwealth’s Attorney Office.

Watson imposed a prison sentence of 68 years with 38 years suspended, leaving an active sentence of 30 years on the convictions of first degree murder, use of a firearm in commission of murder and possession of firearm by a violent felon.

Mervin shot 22-year-old Bryant Andre Craig of Lunenburg County four times in the in the upper torso with an assault rifle on Sept. 15, 2018.

As the defendant was being led to the holding cell, according to the release, he cursed at the 20 or more family members of the victim, which in turn resulted in one person shouting back at him and others to begin reacting verbally.

Mervin made a statement just before the judge sentenced him, according to the release, saying he was sorry for the events that arose and caused the killing but still did not accept responsibility, claiming that anyone else would’ve done the same thing.

According to Deputy Sheriff Chris Wallace, as he was leading Mervin down the stairway to the holding cell, Mervin told him to go tell the judge that the victim got what he … deserved.

The active sentence imposed by the judge was below the low-end of the Sentencing Guidelines, which are considered voluntary and not binding up on the court.

The guidelines had recommended a midpoint of 53 years, seven months, and a range of 40 years to 67 years.

According to the release by Commonwealth’s Attorney Robert Clement, his assistant prosecutor, Baxter Stegall, asked for life in prison, arguing that Mervin’s attack on Craig was completely unprovoked, shooting an unarmed man. He emphasized Mervin’s attempt to hide the rifle by tossing it into the Nottoway River at Jonesboro Bridge where it was found eight months later by divers and fleeing from police in a high-speed chase to South Hill once seen on Route 46 in Brunswick County. Stegall noted that Mervin showed no remorse once he was captured, denying he had shot anyone, and even laughing when asked by investigators what happened to Craig, as if he did not know.

It wasn’t until days later that Mervin claimed he was afraid as Craig and another man and woman approached him to put away the rifle he was carrying around at the outdoor social event on Sugar Hill Road. Judge Watson rejected the late claim of self-defense.

Stegall argued that Mervin was a proven violent felon with a prior conviction for abduction that he had a clear penchant for firearms and for disregarding the law, and that he therefore constituted a serious threat to public safety if he were ever allowed out of prison.

The Court heard from the victim’s mother, Sonya Carter and his 11-year-old brother who both gave powerful testimony about how they and others of the extended family and the community were deeply affected by his loss. More than 250 people attended his funeral, she said.

“The loss of my son is beyond words,” she said. “My first-born son was murdered in cold blood for no reason … I couldn’t believe Dre’ was dead. I felt like life had been taken from my body … I constantly worry about my youngest son when I am away from him because I’m scared that something will happen to him. It is very hard to watch him grieve … My boys truly loved each other … Everyone remembered Dre’s infectious smile and his warm heart with a carefree easygoing personality … I miss his voice, his smile, his smell, him chasing me around the house to tickle me … Dre’ would bring me flowers to my job just to say that he loved me. Dre’ will never be a husband, father or uncle. You have robbed my family of a precious life.” She concluded by asking the court to show the defendant no compassion just as he showed Dre’ no compassion or remorse.

The younger brother testified that the tragedy has had an effect on him including migraines, nausea, deep sadness and distraction in school. “I wake up every morning and go past his room and I feel upset because he is not there anymore,” he said. “I’ll never get to play-fight with him again and get the chance to do the brothers’ handshake … I looked up to him. He was my big brother, my best friend, my hero and my mentor. He was willing to do anything for me … He used to come and eat lunch with me at school. He came to everything that I was in at school. He loved me unconditionally … I will never have my ‘Bubbie’ to be my best man at my wedding.”

Prosecutor Stegall pointed out, “Dre will never have an opportunity to get married, to have children, to see his kids grow up, to take them fishing or to the beach, to give his mother grandchildren, to give a daughter away in marriage, to grow old with his wife, to bounce his grandkids on his knee and tell them stories from when he was younger. Dre is gone from this earth, returned to our Lord.”