Hamilton County man sentenced to 22 years in prison for 2019 robbery turned murder

Hamilton County Sheriff's Office / Dezmond Alexander was sentenced Thursday to 22 years in prison.
Hamilton County Sheriff's Office / Dezmond Alexander was sentenced Thursday to 22 years in prison.

State prosecutors entered five photographs of 20-year-old Darrell Hill as evidence Thursday during a sentencing hearing — the first four were of Hill with his family, and the final was of his body in the morgue.

"The victim died alone in a parking lot at the hands of the defendant," prosecutor Miller Leonard said in court.

Dezmond Alexander, 22, was sentenced to 22 years in prison for the 2019 murder of Hill. Alexander pleaded guilty to second-degree murder in November as part of an agreement with state prosecutors. He was facing a first-degree murder charge.

"He's just living his life in prison like it's nothing," Kenwana Hill, the victim's mother, said in court.

Darrell Hill's grandfather, grandmother and other relatives also filled the courtroom. One wore a T-shirt with Hill's face printed on the front. They whispered amongst themselves, cried and interjected remarks throughout the hearing.

(READ MORE: Plea deals reached in 2019 Chattanooga homicide).

Alexander, James Holmes-Hamilton and at least two others went to the 3900 block of Dahlia Street on Sept. 12, 2019. They planned to rob Hill while he was inside his car, prosecutors said.

When Alexander approached Hill's vehicle with his gun drawn, Hill grabbed his gun in self-defense.

They ended up firing at each other until both individuals were out of ammunition, prosecutors said. Hill was killed during the altercation.

Alexander was 17 years old at the time.

"I did not expect for things to go the way they went," Alexander said while he spoke in court.

He addressed Hamilton County Criminal Court Judge Amanda Dunn, but he turned around once to look into the eyes of Hill's family while he apologized.

"I wish I could bring him back," Alexander said.

Gun violence needs to be met with an appropriate response at sentencing, said Leonard, who requested the maximum of 25 years on behalf of the state. He alluded to Dunn making an example out of Alexander.

"He has shown himself as a trigger puller," Leonard said. "He's a danger to society."

Although Alexander's upbringing is no excuse for his crime, it must be considered, Dunn said.

"Mr. Alexander did make what I felt to be a heartfelt apology," she said.

Alexander was put in foster care when he was 11 years old, and his parents' rights to him were terminated shortly after, Dunn said. He has been diagnosed with several illnesses, including bipolar disorder and attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder.

He was then initiated into a street gang at a young age, Dunn said. He started using meth and other drugs as a teenager.

"I was influenced by the streets at an early age," Alexander said of his childhood. "I didn't have a mom or a dad or any family members I could run to. I just had me."

Members of the public sometimes ask Dunn about what can be done to stop men from killing other men, gun violence and gang activity in Hamilton County, she said.

"I think that Mr. Alexander is a prime example of what happens when parents decide not to parent their child," Dunn said. "It's a tragedy in our community."

Charles Dupree, Alexander's attorney, patted his back while Dunn made her judgement.

(READ MORE: Chattanooga man facing murder charges in overdose death of his 2-year-old son has bond revoked)

Holmes-Hamilton, Alexander's co-defendant, was sentenced to four years in prison in exchange for pleading guilty to facilitating an attempted aggravated robbery and providing information about Alexander's role in the crime.

There were no other witnesses to the murder besides the people involved in the robbery, prosecutors said.

Two female teenagers who were involved were not identified but faced charges in juvenile court.

Contact Sofia Saric at ssaric@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6476.

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