JACKSON, MI – A prison sentence of life without the possibility of parole is tough, too tough if you ask convicted murderer Anthony Gelia.
He will have to make do, though, as the Michigan Court of Appeals affirmed his conviction and sentence Tuesday, Jan. 21, keeping him in prison for the rest of his life.
Gelia, 22, was convicted in 2018 of one count each of first-degree felony murder, first-degree home invasion and felony firearms for the shooting death of 26-year-old Brittany Southwell.
Jurors concluded Gelia, then 19, kicked in the door of a house in the 400 block of Jefferson Street in Jackson on election night, Nov. 8, 2016, and fired several shots inside the home, one of which struck and killed Southwell.
Southwell died from a single gunshot wound shortly after being taken to Henry Ford Allegiance Health. She was holding her infant child when she was shot, witnesses said.
Jurors watched a Facebook Live video recorded by Gelia which showed him making threatening remarks about police, passing motorists and people watching the stream, challenging them to come fight him all while he waved a handgun in front of the screen.
Near the end of the video, it showed Gelia kick in the door of the house and enter. Jurors couldn’t see what happened next, as the recording was moving quickly, but they could hear several gunshots and screams along with Gelia’s voice.
Gelia argues the life sentence he was given on his felony murder conviction constitutes cruel and unusual punishment, arguing jurors shouldn’t have been shown the Facebook Live recording he made of the shooting or listened to the 911 call made by the victim’s boyfriend.
Throughout the trial, Gelia’s attorney argued a charge of involuntary manslaughter was more appropriate in Gelia’s case rather than the felony murder charge he was convicted on.
The appellate court disagreed, stating Gelia failed to show his life sentence was outside the norm for cases similar to his, and that arguing his age at the time of the crime was not sufficient enough for a reduced sentence.
The court found the admission of the video was allowable, as well, as it “could have allowed the jury to determine defendant’s intent leading up to the shooting, notwithstanding the jury’s actual verdict with the added benefit of hindsight,” the court wrote.
In the video, jurors saw Gelia chug a bottle of liquor which he stated, in his appeal, impaired his mental capacity, court records show.
In his appeal, Gelia submitted an affidavit from a psychiatrist stating it’s possible for a person his age, diagnosed with Attention Deficit Disorder and Oppositional Defiant Disorder, to become temporarily insane after consuming drugs and alcohol.
The affidavit bared little weight as it was only a general analysis and that the psychiatrist did not personally evaluate Gelia.
To read all the stories related to the shooting, click here.
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