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Teen sentenced to 140 years in prison in Gwinnett County killing; Family wants new trial

Damia Mitchell's family argues the sentencing was excessive, and they believe the trial was mishandled.

GWINNETT COUNTY, Ga. — Damia Mitchell will spend the next 140 years in prison. Earlier this month, a jury found her guilty on a dozen charges that included voluntary manslaughter, aggravated assault and gang-related charges. It's all tied to a fight that ended in a deadly shooting in February 2021. Investigators said the shooting happened on Mountain Ash Court in Dacula. 

Mitchell, who was 17 at the time, and four others were charged in the killing of 20-year-old Faith Burns. Court documents state Mitchell was associated with the Nine Trey Gangster Bloods, a criminal street gang that has had an extensive history in the Atlanta area, and she was attempting to elevate her status within the gang.

But Mitchell's family claims the trial was incomplete and the prosecution did not present ample evidence. 

“These gang charges, those were just trumped up charges, false charges they put on my child," Vanissa Jackson, Mitchell's mother, said. "She’s not affiliated with gang members. She’s not in a gang.”

RELATED: 17-year-old Dacula teen turns herself in after deadly shooting

Jackson said Mitchell and another victim listed in the indictment broke up, and Burns was a new girlfriend of the victim. But when Mitchell went to pick up her things, a fight broke out and turned deadly. She was indicted in August 2021 and found guilty nearly a year later. A judge sentenced Mitchell to consecutive sentences totaling 140 years in prison.

“Basically they’re saying you’ll never see daylight ever again in your life," Jackson said. "They want my baby to die in jail for something that’s false and bogus.”

11Alive reached out to Burns' family to get reaction to Mitchell's sentencing but did not hear back.

RELATED: Police looking for 17-year-old in deadly Gwinnett shooting

Credit: Damia Mitchell family

“It's excessive sentencing, improper handling of evidence," father Kevin Mitchell said. "How can we trust the system if they roll like this?”

Thaddeus Johnson, a criminal justice expert at Georgia State University, said when young women commit crimes against what he calls traditional gender norms, they tend to receive harsher punishments than young men.

“It is sad this young lady will miss out on her entire life, but again, the other part is that the victim’s family won’t have that aspect either," Johnson said. "Our youth are hurting. The gang problem has been an issue, will always be an issue. We can crack down and make arrests, but the thing is we can’t arrest our way out of these issues and these issues are much larger than police.”

Gwinnett County court officials told 11Alive the four other defendants in the case pleaded guilty and will face sentencing at a later date. Mitchell's family wants her sentence overturned and a new trial to take place, intent on exercising every legal option they can. 

“I don’t want to blame Faith, because I know her family is grieving, sorry for the loss," Jackson said. “Right now, justice looks like unjust to me. Justice looks like you look at this case and the evidence properly, and you charge her properly.”

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