Man gets 13 years in prison for shooting
By Caitlin Davis, Senior Staff Writer
May 29, 2014, 13:52
Dallas Lee Sydnor
HOPEWELL — A 13-year prison sentence was imposed on Dallas Lee Sydnor, 19, of Hopewell. Sydnor pleaded guilty in February to guilty to malicious wounding, shooting into an occupied building and use of a firearm in a felony first offense.
In court Tuesday, Sydnor was sentenced on the three charges after the victim in the case took the stand.
On August 17, of last year the Hopewell Police Department responded to a call at the 2800 block of Gordon Street at 8:40 p.m. for reports of shots fired. When police arrived on scene, they located a victim with shrapnel wounds to the head and face.
The next day, Sydnor was arrested on charges relating to the incident.
On that day back in August, Sydnor was riding around Hopewell and had an altercation with Brian Davis. The two men coincidently met at a service station where Sydnor flashed a gun at Davis; Davis, not wanting a fight, got in his car and left the scene. He told police he noticed that Sydnor began following him but soon lost sight of him on City Point Road.
In the evening hours, Sydnor, who also had other occupants in the vehicle, traveled to the house on Gordon Street. When Sydnor parked the car, he went around to the trunk and pulled out a shotgun, prompting the other occupants in the car to question him on what he was going to do, and one followed him up to the house.
On the other side of the door that night, the man in the residence heard a knock on the door. He was never to able to see who was on the other side as the shot shattered the glass. The other resident in the house found the man bleeding from his face and immediately contacted law enforcement.
The man who was shot in the face, Lynn Denesha, is the grandfather of Brian Davis. After just a few minutes on the stand, it was apparent Denesha is still suffering mentally and emotionally from the incident last year.
He told the court that as a result of that night, he had to have surgery to his face. For those first few weeks after the surgery, Denesha said he could not open his mouth. He also said he currently does not have any feeling on one side of his face due.
“We had to leave the house,” Denesha said. “We left the house and stayed in motels. Then we loaded up a truck and moved back to where we are living now.”
For fear of a possibility of a retaliation, Denesha did not share with the court where he was living but it was indicated it was hundreds of miles from the city.
“I had to leave my job here in Virginia,” he told the court. “I was a supervisor. Where I’m living now, there’s no work. I had to take my retirement to keep living.”
Adding up the losses from leaving his job in the state, moving costs and medical costs, Denesha estimated he has lost close to $50,000 as a result of the shooting. Though the amount of monetary losses was quite large, the mental loss and emotional loss was far greater.
With a catch in his throat and his fist hitting the witness stand, Denesha said his wife now jumps at loud noises in or around their home.
“Thank goodness she didn’t get up off the couch,” he said. “Why did he come to my house and shoot it up. Why did he shoot me in the face. ... I hope he enjoyed it. It hurt. ... I don’t usually cry. I’m the strongest man I know. I’ve lost a lot.”
Deputy Commonwealth’s Attorney Elbert Mumphery IV presented arguments prior to the sentence saying that Sydnor destroyed Denesha’s life.
“He [Denesha] was doing great here,” Mumphery said. “He was living the American dream here. In a split second, his American dream was turned into the American nightmare. It walked right up on his front porch and changed his life forever without so much as a knock on the door.”
Defense attorney Travis Williams said that his client was “just a teenager.” He said that as a teenager Sydnor was not able to fully comprehend the consequences of his actions back on that night in August of last year.
“He has been polite. He has been articulate, respectful of staff [at Riverside Regional Jail],” Williams told the court. “You do have a 19-year-old who has made a horrific, horrible decision. You have to consider he is a young man who has the ability to do well after he gets out.”
In the moments before the sentence was given, Sydnor spoke briefly.
“I apologize to the victim and to my family,” Sydnor said. “All I can ask for his forgiveness.”
Retired Judge Thomas Warren, of Crewe, told Sydnor he is not in the “forgiveness business.”
“What happened on that night is not in dispute,” Judge Warren said. “A shotgun is made to kill in short range. ... The only place a man can go is his home. It is the only place we can go and no one else can come in ... and you violated all that.”
Judge Warren sentenced Sydnor to 20 years, with 10 suspended, for the malicious wounding charge, three years for the firearm charge and 10 years with 10 suspended for shooting into an occupied dwelling.
Sydnor was also ordered to pay $14,500 in restitution and will be under supervised probation when released.
Hopewell Police Chief John Keohane was pleased with the sentence. He said he hopes the sentence will send a message to other people in the city that the police and the Commonwealth Attorney’s Office are working diligently to rid the city of firearms violence.
“I’m hoping with the sentence that others will take note,” Keohane said. “He [Sydnor] was taken at the prime of his life all because of a senseless act of violence.”
Keohane also added that he hopes parents are also taking note of what happened in court on Tuesday.
“Parents need to tell their children it needs to end,” Keohane said of the constant “beef” that the police are dealing with between different groups in Hopewell.
He said the continued “beef” between Sydnor and Davis stemmed from an altercation on Halloween in 2012. Keohane said he finds a lot of the “beef” is over messages on social media such as Twitter and Facebook.