Man sentenced in beating death

Published 10:38 pm Wednesday, September 14, 2016

A Portsmouth man was sentenced Wednesday to life plus 10 years for his role in the beating death of his friend last year.

Kyle Lamar Purvis, 22, made a last-minute plea to the judge, saying his co-defendants had threatened the life of his young son if he did not participate in the beating death of 22-year-old Donta Williams of Portsmouth.

“That wasn’t something I wanted to do,” he said.

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According to court testimony, Purvis, along with Tremayne Johnson and Nathaniel McCoy, planned the attack for several days and then lured Williams onto a pedestrian bridge across a lake near the Department of Defense complex in North Suffolk off Lakeview Parkway on Jan. 20, 2015. The three beat Williams with a hammer and their fists and choked him with a hand saw before pushing his body into the water. His body was not found until almost seven weeks later.

Circuit Court Judge Wayne Farmer did not have any sympathy for Purvis’ excuse.

“It clearly was planned, well in advance, and you stand here and tell me … someone coerced you into raising a hammer 19 times and striking another human being in the head?” Farmer said. “Sleep should elude you for the rest of your life.”

Nadine Olden, the victim’s sister, testified on Wednesday about the impact on her family.

“The only way to describe it is pain,” she said. “It’s a pain that will never go away.”

Her children looked up to their uncle, she said. Williams stayed with his grandmother and took care of her, and now she lives alone. Williams’ fiancée now has dashed dreams of marriage and children.

Bishop Spencer Riddick of New Abundant Life Christian Center said Williams was like a son to him and also was a leader in the church.

“We lost one of the greatest young men, I think, on this side of heaven,” Riddick said.

Riddick said he now struggles with using a hammer or a saw because it reminds him of what happened to Williams.

Prosecutor Matthew Glassman said the actions of Purvis and the other defendants took away a budding leader “in a community that is desperately looking for leaders.”

“They discarded him like a piece of trash and left the family not knowing where he was from Jan. 20 to March 9.”

Purvis’ mother, Monique Morris, testified and called her son a “loving, caring son.” She said she also considered Williams her son.

“He looked at me like his mom,” she said. “He called me ‘Ma.’ I don’t know who technically was involved in this, but I loved my child and I loved Donta as well.”

Richard Davis, Purvis’ defense attorney, said his client had only one misdemeanor conviction on his record prior to Williams’ death.

“He was the first of the three to plead guilty early on and accept responsibility,” Davis said. “My client considered the victim a friend. There must have been something else going on. He’s not the cold-blooded killer the commonwealth would make him out to be.”

But Glassman noted that Purvis only accepted responsibility after being confronted with all of the evidence and said he should not be given any mercy.

“He left him in that lake for almost six weeks,” Glassman said. “Mr. Johnson, Mr. McCoy and Mr. Purvis showed no mercy, zero mercy, to Donta.”

Just before pronouncing his sentence, Farmer said he sometimes struggles with what the appropriate sentence would be.

“I promise you, this is not one of those cases,” he said.

Johnson took a plea deal and is set to be sentenced Dec. 1. McCoy was found guilty in a jury trial in August, and the jury recommended a sentence of two life terms plus 15 years. He will be formally sentenced on Nov. 28.