LYNDHURST, Ohio — Danielle Williams couldn't hold back the tears, her son, 23-year-old Martez Thomas shot and killed in Sept. 2018, her son's convicted killer, Delvonte Philpotts, is finally set to be sentenced for the crime on June 9.
Williams said Cuyahoga County Assistant Prosecutor Kevin Filiatraut did an excellent job in piecing the case together and getting an aggravated murder conviction. Williams said she's pleased Philpotts isn't eligible for a death sentence but said she supports Ohio's death penalty as a viable crime deterrent in extreme cases.
“I've been waiting for this sentencing, it’s been a long time, I’ve been waiting for this for so long," Williams said.
“Trying to hold back the tears, I’m just so excited the person that did this to my son will hopefully not be walking the streets anymore.”
"The prosecutor really did an amazing job with presenting the evidence.”
“But I don’t want my son's killer to get the death penalty, I just want him to sit and have to think about this every day.”
"Still, even though there is rehabilitation and reform in the system, I feel like also when you take a life senselessly and vindictively, and you plot and prey on somebody, then I think it’s a life for a life."
Filiatraut told News 5 investigators did an outstanding job obtaining evidence over a two-year period, but there just wasn't enough to go on to prove premeditation in the case to qualify for the death penalty.
The Cuyahoga County Prosecutors office issued the following statement:
"All capital-eligible cases are reviewed by our Capital Review Committee. They are reviewed on a case-by-case basis and includes a thorough vetting process. An analysis of each case’s strengths & weaknesses, mitigating factors, victim’s input, and numerous other factors are taken into consideration. After this particular case was reviewed, it was determined not to proceed with death penalty specifications."
Filiatraut told News 5 Philpotts lured Thomas to the scene in the 3400 block of East 121st Street in Cleveland by telling him he wanted to buy a refurbished smartphone.
"Martez was known to people as someone who would refurbish iPhones," Filiatraut said. “We were able to determine that indeed Philpotts was part of this robbery set-up.”
“One of the critical factors was ballistics testing and DNA testing. Delvonte Philpotts was on probation for two gun offenses when this happened.”
Filiatraut said Philpotts could face anywhere from 21-years to life in prison without the possibility of parole when he's sentenced on Wednesday.
Meanwhile, the Ohio legislature is considering two bills that would eliminate Ohio's death penalty, House Bill 183 and Senate Bill 103. The bill sponsors said the death penalty doesn't slow down crime and they're hoping one of the bills could be up for a vote by the end of 2021.
Still, Williams believes Ohio should continue with the death penalty in extreme cases, even though she pleased it's not under consideration for her son's killer
“But I want him to live and I want him to have to think about what he did to my son the rest of his life," Williams said.
“When it comes to Ohio's death penalty, it’s a hard decision because some people deserve it and some people don’t.”
“All I know is my son wanted to be a police officer, he was a park guard, and he was very close with a lieutenant in Lyndhurst, and I just feel he had a promising career.”