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Posted on: November 17, 2023

Commonwealth v. Ziontay B. R. Palmer

Ziontay Palmer Sentenced to 4 Life Terms Plus 43 Years for Murdering 3, Wounding 2 Women in 2021 Young Terrace Mass Shooting

NORFOLK, Va. – Ziontay Brian Ricardo Palmer, 22, was sentenced today to four life terms plus 43 years in prison for the malicious wounding of his then-pregnant girlfriend, the aggravated murders of three women, including the girlfriend’s mother and stepmother, the aggravated malicious wounding of one of their neighbors, and the uses of a firearm in the 2021 Young Terrace mass shooting.

Mr. Palmer, then 19, was dating 19-year-old Angel LeGrande and, for a short time, had been living at her Young Terrace apartment with Ms. LeGrande, Ms. LeGrande’s mother, 45-year-old Nicole Lovewine, and Ms. Lovewine’s partner, 42-year-old Detra Brown. Ms. LeGrande was several months pregnant with Mr. Palmer’s child.

The day before the shooting, on Nov. 2, 2021, Ms. LeGrande told Mr. Palmer that she was aware he was entertaining other women and that she was willing to raise their child with her mother and without Mr. Palmer’s help. Ms. LeGrande told Mr. Palmer to leave her home, and his relative picked him up.

Around 6 p.m. on Nov. 3, 2021, that same relative drove Mr. Palmer back to Young Terrace. As Mr. Palmer was arriving in the neighborhood, he spotted Ms. LeGrande and Ms. Lovewine and exited the relative’s vehicle near the intersection of Nicholson Street and Whitaker Lane. Almost immediately, Mr. Palmer shot both Ms. LeGrande and Ms. Lovewine from just a few feet away.

Ms. Brown and a neighbor, 44-year-old Sarah Elizabeth Costine, ran from their apartments to help the two women. As Ms. Brown and Ms. Costine were rendering aid, Mr. Palmer ran up, stood over them, and shot them as well.

Another neighbor, 39-year-old Shazelle Dixon, ran out of her apartment after hearing the gunshots to check on her children who had been playing outside. Mr. Palmer shot Ms. Dixon after she witnessed him shooting Ms. Brown and Ms. Costine, then he fled the neighborhood toward Brambleton Avenue.

Ms. Lovewine and Ms. Brown were both shot multiple times in their heads and torsos. Ms. Costine was shot once in the chest. All three women were beyond medical help by the time emergency responders arrived and were pronounced dead at the scene.

Ms. LeGrande was shot once in the shoulder, and she and her unborn child survived. Ms. Dixon survived being shot in the face and chest, required multiple surgeries including jaw reconstruction, and continues to experience nerve damage from a bullet lodged in her spine.

As Mr. Palmer fled, he discarded his black and silver handgun and some articles of clothing, including a brown hoodie and a pink backpack. Mr. Palmer then got into a woman’s SUV that was parked nearby and unsuccessfully asked the woman seated inside to drive him away from the area. Norfolk Police officers first encountered Mr. Palmer — who had not yet been named a suspect in the shooting but matched one of many initial descriptions of the suspect — moments after he was in the woman’s vehicle while he continued to flee south on foot near St. Pauls Boulevard.

After patting Mr. Palmer down and running a background check on him that came back clean, officers decided not to further detain him. In the hours after the shooting while she recovered in the hospital, Ms. LeGrande identified Mr. Palmer to investigators as the shooter. After Mr. Palmer was named a suspect, Mr. Palmer turned himself in to the Police Operations Center. He was charged with three counts of second-degree murder, two counts of malicious wounding, and five counts of the use of a firearm in the commission of those felonies.

Mr. Palmer’s pink backpack was later recovered from the vehicle of the woman whom he asked to drive him away. Video evidence later recovered from Mr. Palmer’s cell phone showed him, on the day before the shooting, wearing the same brown hoodie and holding the same black and silver firearm recovered from the crime scene.

In July 2023, the Commonwealth’s Attorney’s Office secured indictments from a grand jury against Mr. Palmer for three counts of aggravated murder (for the killing of more than one person as a part of the same act), one count each of malicious wounding, aggravated malicious wounding, attempted carjacking, and six counts of the use of a firearm in the commission of those felonies.

The Office withdrew the charge of the use of a firearm in the commission of attempted carjacking after further evidence suggested that Mr. Palmer had already abandoned his gun before encountering the woman in her SUV. During the trial, Judge Robert B. Rigney dismissed the charge of attempted carjacking following Mr. Palmer’s defense counsel’s motion to strike.

After about three and a half hours of deliberation following a three-day-long trial, the jury found Mr. Palmer guilty as charged on Nov. 17, 2023, of each count of aggravated murder, of aggravated malicious wounding, of malicious wounding, and of five counts of the use of a firearm in the commission of those crimes.

Today, Judge Rigney sentenced Mr. Palmer to life sentences for each count of aggravated murder and aggravated malicious wounding, to 20 years for malicious wounding, to three years for the use of a firearm in the first commission of a felony, and to five years each for the use of a firearm in the four subsequent commissions of a felony. Mr. Palmer’s life sentences on the aggravated murder charges make him ineligible for parole or credit for time served and good behavior.

Deputy Commonwealth’s Attorney Cynthia D. Collard and Assistant Commonwealth’s Attorneys Abigail L. Ottinger and Anthony J. Comento prosecuted Mr. Palmer’s case on behalf of the Commonwealth, and Detectives Jemal Davis, formerly of the Norfolk Police, and Kyle D. Austin of the Norfolk Police led the investigation.

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Norfolk Jury Convicts Ziontay Palmer of Murdering 3, Wounding 2 Women Following 2021 Young Terrace Mass Shooting

NORFOLK, Va. – On Friday, a Norfolk jury convicted 21-year-old Ziontay Brian Ricardo Palmer of the malicious wounding of his then-pregnant girlfriend, the aggravated murders of three women, including the girlfriend’s mother and stepmother, the aggravated malicious wounding of one of their neighbors, and numerous firearm-related charges after Mr. Palmer committed a mass shooting in the Young Terrace neighborhood in 2021.

Mr. Palmer, then 19, was dating 19-year-old Angel LeGrande and, for a short time, had been living at her Young Terrace apartment with Ms. LeGrande, Ms. LeGrande’s mother, 45-year-old Nicole Lovewine, and Ms. Lovewine’s partner, 42-year-old Detra Brown. Ms. LeGrande was several months pregnant with Mr. Palmer’s child.

The day before the shooting, on Nov. 2, 2021, Ms. LeGrande told Mr. Palmer that she was aware he was entertaining other women and that she was willing to raise their child with her mother and without Mr. Palmer’s help. Ms. LeGrande told Mr. Palmer to leave her home, and his relative picked him up.

Around 6 p.m. on Nov. 3, 2021, that same relative drove Mr. Palmer back to Young Terrace. As Mr. Palmer was arriving in the neighborhood, he spotted Ms. LeGrande and Ms. Lovewine and exited the relative’s vehicle near the intersection of Nicholson Street and Whitaker Lane. Almost immediately, Mr. Palmer shot both Ms. LeGrande and Ms. Lovewine from just a few feet away.

Ms. Brown and a neighbor, 44-year-old Sarah Elizabeth Costine, ran from their apartments to help the two women. As Ms. Brown and Ms. Costine were rendering aid, Mr. Palmer ran up, stood over them, and shot them as well.

Another neighbor, 39-year-old Shazelle Dixon, ran out of her apartment after hearing the gunshots to check on her children who had been playing outside. Mr. Palmer shot Ms. Dixon after she witnessed him shooting Ms. Brown and Ms. Costine, then he fled the neighborhood toward Brambleton Avenue.

Ms. Lovewine and Ms. Brown were both shot multiple times in their heads and torsos. Ms. Costine was shot once in the chest. All three women were beyond medical help by the time emergency responders arrived and were pronounced dead at the scene.

Ms. LeGrande was shot once in the shoulder, and she and her unborn child survived. Ms. Dixon survived being shot in the face and chest, required multiple surgeries including jaw reconstruction, and continues to experience nerve damage from a bullet lodged in her spine.

As Mr. Palmer fled, he discarded his black and silver handgun and some articles of clothing, including a brown hoodie and a pink backpack. Mr. Palmer then got into a woman’s SUV that was parked nearby and unsuccessfully asked the woman seated inside to drive him away from the area. Norfolk Police officers first encountered Mr. Palmer — who had not yet been named a suspect in the shooting but matched one of many initial descriptions of the suspect — moments after he was in the woman’s vehicle while he continued to flee south on foot near St. Pauls Boulevard.

After patting Mr. Palmer down and running a background check on him that came back clean, officers decided not to further detain him. In the hours after the shooting while she recovered in the hospital, Ms. LeGrande identified Mr. Palmer to investigators as the shooter. After Mr. Palmer was named a suspect, Mr. Palmer turned himself in to the Police Operations Center. He was charged with three counts of second-degree murder, two counts of malicious wounding, and five counts of the use of a firearm in the commission of those felonies.

Mr. Palmer’s pink backpack was later recovered from the vehicle of the woman whom he asked to drive him away. Video evidence later recovered from Mr. Palmer’s cell phone showed him, on the day before the shooting, wearing the same brown hoodie and holding the same black and silver firearm recovered from the crime scene.

In July 2023, the Commonwealth’s Attorney’s Office secured indictments from a grand jury against Mr. Palmer for three counts of aggravated murder (for the killing of more than one person as a part of the same act), one count each of malicious wounding, aggravated malicious wounding, attempted carjacking, and six counts of the use of a firearm in the commission of those felonies.

The Office withdrew the charge of the use of a firearm in the commission of attempted carjacking after further evidence suggested that Mr. Palmer had already abandoned his gun before encountering the woman in her SUV. During the trial, Judge Robert B. Rigney dismissed the charge of attempted carjacking following Mr. Palmer’s defense counsel’s motion to strike.

On Friday, after about three and a half hours of deliberation following a three-day-long trial, the jury found Mr. Palmer guilty as charged of each count of aggravated murder, of aggravated malicious wounding, and of malicious wounding. Mr. Palmer is docketed for sentencing before Judge Rigney on Feb. 2.

“Mr. Palmer has committed crimes so unbearable that they break the heart to describe,” said Norfolk Commonwealth’s Attorney Ramin Fatehi. “Mr. Palmer shot and wounded the woman who was carrying his child, murdered two mothers in the presence of their children, murdered a good Samaritan who came to help, and shot and seriously wounded a second good Samaritan. The jury has reached the right result, and at sentencing we will recommend the sanction equal to these crimes: life in prison.”

Deputy Commonwealth’s Attorney Cynthia D. Collard and Assistant Commonwealth’s Attorneys Abigail L. Ottinger and Anthony J. Comento are prosecuting Mr. Palmer’s case on behalf of the Commonwealth, and Detectives Jemal Davis, formerly of the Norfolk Police, and Kyle D. Austin of the Norfolk Police led the investigation.

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