Harvey L. Bryant, Commonwealth’s Attorney for the City of Virginia Beach, announced today that Deandre Leon Dunnaway, age 23, and Cheari A. Edwards, age 20, both formerly of the 600 block of Rivers Reach in Virginia Beach, Virginia, pled guilty before Circuit Court Judge Les L. Lilley for their role in a double murder at Rally’s restaurant. Dunnaway pled guilty to Capital Murder (2 counts), Robbery, Conspiracy, and Use of a Firearm (3 counts). In accordance with a plea agreement, Judge Lilley sentenced Dunnaway to two (2) terms of Life without Parole, and Life plus 23 years in prison. These are the maximum sentences for the charges of Robbery, Conspiracy, and Use of a Firearm (3 counts).
Edwards entered a plea of guilty to charges of First Degree Murder (2 counts), Robbery, Conspiracy, and Use of a Firearm (3 counts). Under the terms of a plea agreement, Edwards’ sentence is not to exceed the high end of the Virginia State Sentencing Guidelines, which is 47 years and two (2) months. Judge Lilley delayed acceptance of her plea agreement until the completion and review of a pre-sentence report. The return date for that is scheduled for November 18, 2013.
Had this matter gone to trial, the Commonwealth’s evidence would have proved that on the evening of January 7, 2013, Deandre Dunnaway, Cheari Edwards, and the victim, Alphonso White, were working at Rally’s on Lynnhaven Parkway in Virginia Beach. White was the evening manager. Dunnaway and Edwards decided prior to going to work that night that they would rob White of the money earned at Rally’s that evening. As planned, at the end of the evening shift, Mr. White was in the manager’s office counting money. Dunnaway shot Mr. White, who died almost immediately. During the murder, Mr. White’s brother, Michael Johnson, came into Rally’s. Dunnaway shot Mr. Johnson within seconds of shooting Mr. White. Johnnson also died immediately. Cheari Edwards collected the money Mr. White had been counting, which totaled about $1,100.
Detectives with the Virginia Beach Police Department began an investigation and developed Dunnaway and Edwards as suspects. Bloody money was found in the bedroom they shared. DNA analysis proved that the blood on the money was Alphonso White’s. Dunnaway admitted to police that since he did not plan to wear a mask during the robbery, he would have to kill White in order to avoid being caught by police.
“Both plea agreements and resolutions are fully supported by the victims’ family,” Bryant said. “While capital murder cases often take over two (2) years to complete, Dunnaway’s case was resolved in just over six (6) months. I am glad that the family had a speedy resolution and did not have to endure a lengthy trial.”
Dunnaway has no prior criminal convictions.
The case was prosecuted by Commonwealth’s Attorney Harvey L. Bryant, Chief Deputy Commnwealth’s Attorney Colin D. Stolle, and Deputy Commonwealth’s Attorney Scott M. Lang. Please contact Macie Pridgen if additional information is desired.