Newport News Men Sentenced for Murder of Hardee's Employee
NEWPORT NEWS, Va. – Anthony Lee Wainwright, 26, of Newport News, Va., was sentenced to life in prison, and Michael Johnson, Jr., 24, also of Newport News, Va., was sentenced to 35 years in prison, for their roles in the murder of Diane Green, an employee of a Newport News Hardee’s restaurant during an armed robbery.
Neil H. MacBride, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia; Rich Marianos, Acting Special Agent in Charge of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives’ (ATF) Washington Field Division; and James D. Fox, Chief of Newport News Police, made the announcement after the jury returned the verdict before United States District Judge Rebecca Beach Smith.
"Anthony Wainwright committed a loathsome, brutal murder of a fellow church-member during an armed robbery at Hardees," said U.S. Attorney MacBride. "No prosecution can take back the senseless events of that day, but we hope the severe sentence he received today will provide some measure of closure for Ms. Green's family."
"These types of cold blooded murders never make sense," said ATF Special Agent in Charge Rich Marianos. "Detectives, ATF agents and the Assistant U.S. Attorneys did outstanding work to bring these criminals to justice, and I share U.S. Attorney MacBride's hope that Ms. Green's family can feel some measure of closure with theses sentences."
“I am so proud of the team of investigators and prosecutors that worked extremely hard to bring this horrific and senseless crime to a conclusion,” said Chief Fox. “Although nothing can replace the life of Diane Green, we are hopeful that her family and friends will be able to experience some closure to this tragedy by knowing that those responsible have been severely punished for their crimes. Let the outcome of this case be yet another message that the team of local, state and federal law enforcement agencies and prosecutors will continue working together to remove the criminal element from our streets.”
According to the evidence introduced at trial, on Sept. 8, 2007, Wainwright and Henry Stapleton entered a Hardee’s restaurant with firearms intending to commit a robbery. After robbing the employees of money in the cash registers, Wainwright’s do-rag slipped down and revealed his face. Worried he could be identified because he knew the victim from church, Wainwright shot Diane Green one time in the back of the head killing her. Wainwright also injured a second employee who fled from the restaurant. Wainwright and Stapleton fled on foot and were later picked up by Johnson from a location near the Hardee’s restaurant. The three returned to a room at the American Tudor Inn, where they divided up approximately $150 stolen in the robbery.
Wainwright was convicted following a five day jury trial in April. Just prior to trial Johnson pled guilty to conspiracy to obstruct, delay and affect commerce by robbery, discharge of a firearm during a crime of violence, murder with a firearm in relation to a crime of violence, and retaliating against a witness. Johnson also pled guilty to a separate indictment charging him with a robbery of the Miller Mart that took place in June, 2006. Stapleton, 24, pled guilty in January and was sentenced in May to 30 years in prison for his role in the robbery and fatal shooting.
This case was investigated by the Newport News Police Department and the ATF. Assistant United States Attorney’s Howard Zlotnick, Lisa McKeel and Brian J. Samuels, prosecuted the case on behalf of the United States.A copy of this press release may be found on the website of the United States Attorney's Office for the Eastern District of Virginia at www.justice.gov/usao/vae. Related court documents and information may be found on the website of the District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia at http://www.vaed.uscourts.gov or on http://pacer.uspci.uscourts.gov.