The Columbus teenager who killed a Phenix City grandfather while alluding police in June 2017 was sentenced to life in prison in Russell County Circuit Court on Friday.
Dezhaun Dumas led police on a 20-minute chase through Columbus and Phenix City before crashing his stolen SUV into a vehicle driven by Frank McLemore. The Phenix City man was killed and his wife Erin was gravely injured.
Dumas was convicted of murder in October and Judge David Johnson handed down the sentence. He was also convicted of assault and bringing a stolen vehicle into the state. Dumas will be eligible for parole in 15 years under Alabama law.
McLemore’s wife and children told the judge of how Dumas had ripped the heart out of their family. Zoe Williams, McLemore’s daughter made a powerful statement, drawing on 22 years as an Alabama public school teacher.
And she chose to speak for someone not in the courtroom. Dumas’ daughter who was born after he was arrested in 2017.
As a shackled Dumas looked at her wearing a red-striped prison uniform, Williams told him she had taught a wide range of students. One’s in the NFL and another is on Alabama’s death row.
But one student made a huge impact on her last spring. That’s students father was in prison.
“I knew between my mom and my brother they were going to hit on all of the emotional things that I would want to say,” she said. “So, I felt like that gave us the opportunity to bring in the impact on the person who was not in the room, which was his child.”
And there was a reason for that.
“I just felt like it was the opportunity for me to explain to him what his actions were really going to be doing to his daughter as she grew up,” she said.
District attorney Kenneth Davis, who has been a prosecutor for more than four decades, called Williams’ statement unique.
“It was well thought out. It was well-considered,” Davis said. “And being a teacher as she is, and her experience with people from every walk of life, from every socioeconomic situation, I think it’s meaningful. It was moving to me.”
Erin brought a picture of her husband, soul mate and life partner of 49 years into the court. When she finished, she showed Dumas the picture she was holding as she finished talking.
Dumas apologized to the McLemores before he was sentenced. He said he wished he had done the right thing. But he didn’t.
“If you wanted to categorize this case, it would be actions have consequences,” Davis said. “When you do things that endanger innocent people you have to know that there is a consequence for that. That there is a cost for that.”