Imposing Sentence Judge Says to Murder Defendant, ‘You Have to Start by Forgiving yourself’

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On Nov. 27, Darquise Montgomery was sentenced to 12 years in prison by DC Superior Court Judge Rainey Brandt in an emotional hearing.

Montgomery, 20, was originally charged with first-degree murder, two counts possession of a firearm during a crime of violence, assault with intent to kill while armed, and carrying a pistol without a license for his involvement in the murder of 25-year-old Anthony Lee on Sept. 26, 2020, on the 2900 block of Martin Luther King Jr. Avenue, SE.

On July 6, Montgomery accepted a plea deal that lessened his charge to second-degree murder while armed, and dismissed all other counts.

Before the sentencing, Lee’s mother gave a victim impact statement, stating “I want to let this young man know he gets a second chance and my son is not going to get a second chance.” She also said, “If you have kids, you’ll be a father, something you took away from my son.”

Lee’s mother mentioned the uptick in violence saying, “I’m 64 now, it’s just too much, somewhere along the line we dropped the ball.”

Judge Brandt acknowledged the problem plaguing the community saying, “If Martin Luther King was alive today he would be woefully embarrassed.”

Following the victim impact statement, Montgomery gave an emotional response, “I apologize to the family of Anthony Lee and my family,” adding, “I was blind and thought I was the product of my environment.”

Montgomery expressed remorse for his actions and did not want Lee to have died in vain. He said, “I’ll be an advocate to show that people can change.” He wants people in his community to know that there are other ways out, ways to avoid the path he took.

Judge Brandt responded, “I’m not mad at you.” She added, “You know and only you know what you’ve endured and had to live with.” She said, “I am going to accept your apology on behalf of the citizens of the District of Columbia.” 

Judge Brandt said of his character, “I don’t see that in a lot of young people sitting where you’re sitting,” adding, “You have to start by forgiving yourself.” She said what he has shown the court affected the weight of the sentence.

Kyrie Wells, 21, a co-defendant, was sentenced to 14 years for the same murder. Judge Brandt said, “You are not Kyrie Wells.”

She sentenced Montgomery to 12 years in prison as well as 5 years of supervised release. As a part of his sentence, he is required to get his General Education Diploma (GED) and register as a gun offender.

Before being taken back by US Marshals, Montgomery made a request to hold his baby son, Judge Brandt stated that it was up to the Marshals to make the decision, without a response. Montgomery waved goodbye to his son and his family and said, “I love you.”

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