“This homicide was violent, brutal and very personal,” said Assistant U.S. Attorney Veronica Sanchez,”This was someone [Hall] loved and cared about.”
Hall, 51, was the first homicide victim of this year. She was found dead by police in her apartment on the 300 block of 18th Place Northeast at approximately 2:20 p.m.
Outside the courtroom, Herbert Smallwood, 34, Hall’s nephew, said he disagreed with the government allowing Cleveland to plea for involuntary manslaughter.
“It should have been second-degree murder,” said Smallwood. “I did sixteen years for a drug charge, and this man is getting nine years for killing someone. You do the math.”
During sentencing, Sanchez said that if this case would have gone to court prosecutors would have highlighted through testimony from the medical examiner that it took three minutes for Cleveland to asphyxiate Hall, and that this manner of homicide was especially heinous.
“He’s diabolical, he’s clever and whatever you give him is not enough,” said Hall’s brother James Hall, during his impact statement.
Sanchez joined Hall’s family members in asking Judge Robert Morin for the maximum sentence of 10 years under the conditional plea agreement.
Defense attorney Andrew Stanner argued that Cleveland suffers from mental health issues, and that the murder was driven by his drug addiction.
“It’s not our position that this is nothing other than awful and morally wrong,” said Stanner, “Mr. Cleveland has no prior history of violence and he is an older man.”
Stanner recommended Cleveland serve his sentence at a federal medical facility and receive mental health and drug treatment. He also said to the court that the murder was not premeditated and Cleveland showed “no malice” and was not an “evil man.”
Hall had the chance to address the court during the sentencing hearing and apologized to Cleveland’s family and asked Judge Morin to “have mercy.”
“I understand that what I did was wrong, taking the life of my wife,” said Hall.”I deserve to go to jail, I deserve to be punished.”
According to prosecutors, Cleveland tried to hide the murder by prompting a chair against the front door and cleaning blood off the floor before fleeing the scene.
Sanchez argued that Cleveland also robbed Hall after killing her. She said that items belonging to Hall, including her wallet, were found on him when he was arrested by police a day after the murder.
Hall’s son was also present at the sentencing hearing Friday. The young man wore a t-shirt with a picture of Hall and the words, “I Miss You Mom,” but he could not hold back his tears long enough to deliver his impact statement in front of Judge Morin.
“You may have broken the chain, but the family is still standing,” said Hall’s, sister Irene Hall, “We will stay together as a family.”