ATLANTA — Damia Mitchell was sentenced to 140 years on voluntary manslaughter, aggravated assault and gang charges tied to the February 2021 shooting death of Faith Burns.
Allen Burns, Faith's father, tells 11Alive this helps bring some justice for his daughter, who was 20 years old at the time of her death.
“I feel a sigh of relief for for my child, just getting some type of justice," he said. "My family, we're trying to heal now we've dealt with this for like 16 months.”
Mitchell, who was 17-year-old at the time, and four others were charged with the killing of Faith Burns.
Prosecutors argued Mitchell and four others got into a fight with people at a Gwinnett County home, where Faith was. The fight led to at least 19 shots being fired and to Faith's death.
"At the end of the day, it's a no-win situation for everybody," Burns said. "We all lose. They lose their child in jail; we don't have our child. Who wins? Nobody wins."
Burns says his daughter did not know Mitchell but knew Mitchell's ex-girlfriend.
“Faith was hanging out with her ex-girlfriend and they came over that house that day because they were going back and forth with beef. My daughter was an innocent bystander," Burns said. "Faith did not even know any of the girls that day."
Court documents state Mitchell was associated with the Nine Trey Gangster Bloods. This criminal street gang has had an extensive history in the Atlanta area, and she was attempting to elevate her status within the gang.
But Mitchell's family claims the trial was incomplete and the prosecution did not present ample evidence.
“These gang charges, those were just trumped up charges, false charges they put on my child," Vanissa Jackson, Mitchell's mother, said. "She’s not affiliated with gang members. She’s not in a gang.”
Jackson said Mitchell and another victim listed in the indictment broke up, and Burns was a new girlfriend of the victim. But a fight broke out when Mitchell went to pick up her things and turned deadly.
She was indicted in August 2021 and found guilty nearly a year later. A judge sentenced Mitchell to consecutive sentences totaling 140 years in prison.
“Basically they’re saying you’ll never see daylight ever again in your life," Jackson said. "They want my baby to die in jail for something that’s false and bogus.”
Mitchell’s family wants a new trial and told 11Alive the sentencing was excessive. Burns says his family faces the worst sentencing of all.
“I'm sentenced to life without my baby," he said. "They have the right to go on appeal court and do everything they wanted, that's their right to do. I don't have no right to appeal. I can’t say, let's appeal February, 14 2021.”
Burns, who has been present at every court date and hearing, says he’s not surprised the other defendants received much lower sentences.
“They’re up here wondering why the other girls got 4 to 10 years," he said. "She's the one that assembled that posse to come over there. They’re like well she ain't the shooter, but you brought the shooter over to the house that day."
Burns wants people to remember his daughter as the happy, funny, soccer-loving sister, aunt, and daughter she was. He hopes her legacy stays alive in those who knew her and shared her memory with others.
"She was giving," he said. "I seen all these kids that came out on her funeral who where like, "Faith did this, Faith did that," and me and my wife would look at each other, like, "You're talking about Faith... she is such a amazing giving person. [This] hurts so bad. Never to have that again, you know?"