ISLE OF WIGHT, Va. (WAVY) — One of two murder defendants in a double-murder of a grandmother and her son was sentenced to two life terms after pleading guilty.
Kareem Mitchell was charged with first-degree murder in the September 2017 shooting deaths of Nancy Starnes, 80, and her son Kenneth, 58, at their home on Ennisdale Drive in Smithfield.
Judge Robert Sandwich approved the plea agreement between the Commonwealth and Mitchell’s attorney Jennifer Stanton. In exchange for pleading guilty to the two murder and related firearm, larceny and burglary charges, Mitchell escaped exposure to the death penalty had he gone to trial.
“I can say this was completely unplanned,” Stanton said outside the courthouse. “It was a burglary that went really, really bad.”
Mitchell admitted to pulling the trigger on the .40 caliber semiautomatic pistol that killed both victims, but then, according to the Commonwealth’s Attorney Georgette Phillips, Mitchell and co-defendant Richard Holmes stole two vehicles, three TVs, a laptop and some rifles from the home.
Family members believe the grandmother of nine, great grandmother of nine more — along with her son — were actually targeted because they were both disabled.
“They have two vehicles in their driveway both with handicapped plates on it,” said Les Hile, Nancy Starnes’s son-in-law. “To me that was like a beacon for a predator who would want to find an easy target. And they found it. (Nancy and Kenneth) couldn’t defend themselves.”
Grandson Paul Starnes says he believes both men had more on their mind than just burglary the morning of September 22, 2017. “They went in with a firearm. If you weren’t gonna kill anybody or murder anybody, why would you take a firearm?”
Stanton says Mitchell was extremely remorseful for his crimes, and she submitted a letter of apology Mitchell wrote to the Starnes family for the court file.
Hile says the family is not interested.
“We have not seen the letter. We informed the Commonwealth’s Attorney when she made us aware of the letter that we had no interest in seeing the letter.”
Holmes has a court date in the case next Wednesday. A third defendant in the case, Sharon Galvin, is Kareem Mitchell’s half-sister. She is charged with receiving stolen property and accessory to murder after the fact.
The prosecution says Mitchell gave one of the stolen TVs to Galvin as a birthday present.