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Press Release

Jury Convicts Hampton Man of Drug Related Murder

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Eastern District of Virginia

NEWPORT NEWS, Va. – A federal jury convicted a Hampton man today on charges of use of a firearm resulting in death, drug conspiracy, attempted possession with intent to distribute ecstacy, and felon in possession of a firearm and ammunition.

According to court records and evidence presented at trial, Damontaze M. Tillery, 24, arranged to trade a firearm for the drug MDMA, commonly called “ecstasy” which was to be provided by the victim. On July 26, 2018, the victim travelled from Virginia Beach to downtown Newport News to conduct the drug transaction with Tillery. The victim met Tillery at 19th Street and Ivy, and during the transaction Tillery murdered the victim. The victim was unarmed and still in possession of the quantity of ecstasy when he was found deceased in his vehicle with his foot on the gas causing the tires to spin until a bystander turned the vehicle off. An off-duty Newport News firefighter responded after seeing the smoke coming from the vehicle, and upon approaching the vehicle he realized the victim had a gunshot wound to the chest. The victim, Javon Stephenson, 31, was pronounced dead at the scene.

Tillery faces a maximum penalty of life in prison when sentenced on November 8. Actual sentences for federal crimes are typically less than the maximum penalties. A federal district court judge will determine any sentence after taking into account the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.

This case is part of Project Safe Neighborhoods (PSN), which is the centerpiece of the Department of Justice’s violent crime reduction efforts.  PSN is an evidence-based program proven to be effective at reducing violent crime. Through PSN, a broad spectrum of stakeholders work together to identify the most pressing violent crime problems in the community and develop comprehensive solutions to address them. As part of this strategy, PSN focuses enforcement efforts on the most violent offenders and partners with locally based prevention and reentry programs for lasting reductions in crime.

G. Zachary Terwilliger, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia, Ashan M. Benedict, Special Agent in Charge of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives’ (ATF) Washington Field Division, and Steve R. Drew, Chief of Newport News Police, made the announcement after U.S. District Judge Rebecca Beach Smith accepted the verdict. Assistant U.S. Attorney Lisa R. McKeel and Managing Assistant U.S. Attorney Howard J. Zlotnick are prosecuting the case.

A copy of this press release is located on the website of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Virginia. Related court documents and information are located on the website of the District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia or on PACER by searching for Case No. 4:19-cr-31.


Joshua Stueve
Director of Public Affairs

Updated August 2, 2019

Drug Trafficking
Firearms Offenses
Project Safe Neighborhoods
Violent Crime