*Robert Coleman may spend the next 10 years in prison after he admitted he punched a woman at a 7-eleven store because he said she called him the n-word.
Fedelia Montiel-Benitez died in a hospital 10 days later.
Coleman, 27, was unsuccessful in an Alexandria circuit Court when he told the jury of 12 that he “snapped” when Montiel-Benitez aimed the racial slur at him, and that when he punched her he didn’t intend to kill her. But prosecutors said the woman did not speak enough English to use such a word. They added that even if she did use the word Coleman’s response was unjustified.
“Words alone” are no reason to kill, Assistant Commonwealth’s Attorney David Lord said in closing arguments.
Surveillance video from the store, located near the Mark Center on Seminary Road, showed the two in a 45-second conversation, but there was no audio. Coleman was there to buy cigarettes, and Montiel-Benitez was purchasing alcohol.
“We of course remain disappointed that they didn’t see it as manslaughter,” Coleman’s attorney, Robert Jenkins, said after the jury returned. He said Coleman and his family were “grateful” for the jury’s recommended sentence, given that second-degree murder can carry a punishment of up to 40 years. It reflected, Jenkins said, “that this was not something that he wanted to happen, that he did not intend to take someone’s life.”
The Washington Post reports…
Coleman’s girlfriend, Nikki Howard, testified she could not hear the entire conversation but broke the two up. In the video, Montiel-Benitez is seen walking to the door and then turning.
Coleman says that is when she called him the n-word; Howard remembered her cursing. In the video Coleman can be seen chasing Montiel-Benitez outside.