A Virginia man who sexually assaulted and then killed his 23-year-old neighbor will spend the rest of his life behind bars, NBC4 reports.
The sentencing of 42-year-old David Cunningham comes after he was convicted of aggravated murder and two counts of object sexual penetration on February 9 in connection with the death of 23-year-old Melia Angelic Jones.
Prosecutors alleged that on December 7, 2021, Cunningham was stalking Jones and then followed her into her Virginia apartment. Jones had Down syndrome and had recently started living there.
Later that day, Jones’ father and stepmother went to the apartment and found her dead. She had a plastic bag over her head, a shirt wrapped around her neck and it appeared that she had been strangled. Her body had been wrapped in a Hannah Montana blanket on her bed.
Cunningham claimed initially that two had only kissed, and he later asserted that they had sex but that it was consensual. However, his DNA was located underneath the woman’s fingernails and surveillance footage recorded him following Jones.
At a sentencing hearing on Thursday, Circuit Court Judge Kathleen M. Uston imposed three life sentences on Cunningham.
“There was no expression of remorse, even today,” Uston said at the hearing, according to The Washington Post.
Following the sentencing, Alexandria Commonwealth’s Attorney Bryan Porter said he wanted to focus on celebrating Jones’ life.
“Today, a predator has been held accountable for the knowing, premeditated sexual assault and murder of a precious human being. For the rest of his life, the defendant will be housed in a prison, free to reflect and reckon on his vile and vicious acts. He deserves no better,” Alexandria Commonwealth’s Attorney Bryan Porter said, according to the Alexandria Times.
“But I do not wish to focus on the defendant. Instead, I choose to focus on the wonderful, love-filled life lived by Melia Jones.”
“Melia will always be remembered for her laughter, her dancing, and the happiness she brought to the lives of others.”
Jones was born in Puerto Rico and graduated from Mount Vernon High School and the Pulley Career Center in Alexandria, Virginia. Melissa Bindocci of the Pulley Center recalled Jones fondly.
“Melia was just a ray of sunshine always, and she just brought hope and laughter and lightness and just pure joy every day,” Bindocci told NBC4.
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[Featured image: David Cunningham/Alexandria Sheriff’s Office; Melia Jones/Facebook]
Post source: Crime Online