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Judge reveals why he sentenced teen to 40 years for fight that started on Instagram

 rob_leonard

Myzelle Chantel Armstrong captured the nation’s attention after she was sentenced to 40 years for a fight that began on Instagram. She will serve four years in prison and 36 years of probation.

According to reports, Armstrong and her co-defendant, Zawadi Clark, decided to meet the women to fight in person after the Instagram spat got out of hand. Clark boiled hot oil. When their four female enemies arrived at the Cumberland Glen Apartments, Armstrong held open their car door and threw the hot oil on the women. The victims received second degree burns. Armstrong and Clark both received 40 year sentences, but Clark will serve three years behind bars.

We reached out to Judge Robert D. Leonard II to get his thoughts on Armstrong’s sentence.

When we posted the case on our social media accounts, some of our readers suggested that the 36 years on parole was excessive. What was the determining factor for the sentence?

To correct some misinformation that was reported, it was a 40 year sentence in total length and she was sentenced to serve the first four years in confinement. That was the same total length as the co-defendants’ sentences and it can terminate early after 20 years if she is in full compliance with the terms of her sentence. The 40 years was entered into by agreement with the other defendants because they all have over $100,000 in restitution to pay for the victims’ medical bills related to the burns and skin grafts. I’m not here to set anyone up to fail, so I felt like I needed to stretch those restitution payments out over a period of time that would make it more feasible to comply with the sentence. Probationers are typically given the first half of probation to satisfy their financial obligations to the court. For example, five years of probation would result in approximately a $3,400.00 per month restitution payment. Giving a longer period on probation was an effort to make it less likely that she would violate probation.

Have you witnessed many cases that initially started due to disagreements on social media?

Social media in the courtroom is becoming more and more prevalent. Every once in a while a criminal case will have a social media aspect, but it is more common in the divorce setting. I have seen instances where people on probation have made some interesting choices in posting pictures of themselves engaged in conduct that would be a violation of probation.

How has social media changed the way crime is prosecuted over the years?

Social media is making the prosecution of crime easier for prosecutors to handle in court and easier for police to investigate prior to an arrest. It doesn’t matter what your privacy settings are, if you put it on the Internet, it can be discovered.

With social media there is no substitute for good judgment in posting. If you wouldn’t want your mother, law enforcement or an employer to see it, don’t post it.



24 Comments

  1. Jason on February 12, 2015 at 12:15 pm

    I kinda understand his reasoning, but how can a 19 year-old after serving 4 years in the pen be expected to pay restitution of these amounts and NOT violate probation. It ain’t happening. She would need to pay in excess of $416 a month to get off after 20 years. Black folks graduating with Masters can’t find work good enough to pay the rent let alone payback extra money. She is done.

    #welcometoslavery

    • Black woman on February 12, 2015 at 2:18 pm

      I agree with his sentence. You do the crime and you must pay the price if found guilty. Those girls could’ve died because of childish behavior on social media. Sometimes you have to take the high road when it comes to stupidity on social media. #IJS

      • Jason on February 12, 2015 at 6:40 pm

        I am cool with “paying” for your crimes, but don’t be mislead. These often insurmountable sentences should really be scrutinized when the crime MAY have occurred due to youthful indiscretion. Thats all I am saying. You have to remember that the prison industry is a business that has to be fed, and often the “meat” is Black and Brown bodies.

        • Nica Tally on February 13, 2015 at 7:52 pm

          So, Jason your excuse for these immature violent silly-ass bit*hes is….??? Think about the victim’s here, their life is changed and they will live with the disfigurement of their bodies for more than 40 years.

          • Jason on February 13, 2015 at 11:57 pm

            They need to also take responsibility for their part of it. They decided to show up to a fight. They are lucky to even be alive.



          • Theresa on April 26, 2016 at 8:33 pm

            Are you saying that they need to *take responsibility* for being horribly disfigured because they showed up to a fight? What happened to your previously mentioned youthful indiscretion?



          • Jason on April 27, 2016 at 1:57 pm

            Yes. They showed up to show out and got messed up. They have to take some of the blame for their suffering also. How much? 50% at least. They could have ignored a crazy fool on the web.



      • Mikha Yisrael on April 26, 2016 at 6:31 am

        The other girls also showed up in their neighborhood to fight them. The others girls shouldn’t be blameless either. Had they been able to exit the vehicle things would of been different.

    • Likewaterforchoc on February 12, 2015 at 2:44 pm

      Welcome to slavery, huh? What about those other girls? The victims? Remember them? This was not just an ordinary after school fight the one’s we would have by the oak tree at 2:45. Hot oil? These girls will have scars for the rest of their lives that have altered their appearance and the way the view themselves. I was burned on my face when I was 2 by a babysitter. She went to jail for a couple months. I’m 35 and the scar is still there.

      • Jason on February 12, 2015 at 6:46 pm

        First – Let me say I am sorry for experience with your scar. The “victims” here didn’t deserve to get burned with oil. HOWEVER, they did agree to meet to fight. If you are crazy/stupid/foolish enough to agree to meet me to try to whip my butt – you better be prepared for whatever I show up with. Your “victims” are not totally innocent in this case.

        • Likewaterforchoc on February 13, 2015 at 9:08 am

          I stand by my statement. Dousing folks with hot oil is not really fighting. As I stated before this was not a typical meet-me-under-the-oak-tree at 3:00 kind of fight I remember from my childhood.The girls agreed to meet for a fight but the charged parties had other plans which included causing permanent damage. There is a certain kind of person with a certain kind of mindset that does something of that nature. We are worried about the financial burden that the sentence carries landing them back in jail While there was no monetary restitution for me (my parents had to pay medical bills on their own along with raising my siblings). It takes money to receive medical care.
          An even better question could be: Do you think the girls charged will ever challenge anyone to another fight andshow up to douse someone with hot oil?

          • jeffrey dahmer on February 14, 2015 at 6:36 am

            I agree, this is not the fights from your time of meeting under the oak at 3. We also have learned how to make fire and use a computer and everyone has a cell phone. During the time of the ‘Oak tree fights’ people didn’t have instant access to what was going on around the world and the latest method of getting even. This is the world that we have made and these young women who have access to the internet (this fight did begin on social media) are often the ones who watch the girl fights on youtube.com. Those are not pretty. Young women now take off their spike heels to injure their opponents. When its consider a fight, it isn’t suppose to be fair, its ‘be the winner or the loser’. In this setting, it is really hard to decide who was the winner or the loser – would I chose 4 years in the pen over having my body permanently scarred. Yes, I probably would…

            Jason – I agree with your argument, I have your back – don’t wish to use the hot oil trick, but trust, I will be entering the fight to win it and use whatever necessary to make that the outcome.



          • lee on April 27, 2016 at 9:48 pm

            You missed the point, based on your misfortune! Who NOW DAYS show up to fight without some kind of weapon? We are not in the days when you use to fight! White kids that commit murder don’t get that kind of prison time nor probation! That’s the point!!!



        • Theresa on April 26, 2016 at 8:35 pm

          Are you seriously blaming the victims for showing up?

          • Jason on April 27, 2016 at 1:53 pm

            I had to go back and refresh my memory on this one, but my answer is YES. Sometimes you just have to let it all go.



    • Sad for our youth on February 14, 2015 at 5:27 am

      Agreed. This situation is a catch 22. While her behavior was criminal and should not go unpunished, how can a judge expect her to be a productive member of society and find gainful employment with a criminal history? She is so young and this will follow her for the rest of her life.

    • Brittaney Thomas on April 25, 2016 at 12:20 am

      They should think before they act because if those girls would have died then it could have been worse…I don’t feel sorry for them because it’s a childish act .

  2. boggabutt on February 12, 2015 at 2:31 pm

    You get what you give!

  3. mags on February 12, 2015 at 2:35 pm

    I agree with judge sorry these people out here acting like animals an example was made so get with it she should Jace thought of what she did before it was done. CONSEQUENCES is what you get in making bad decision good for the judge.

  4. Danisha on February 12, 2015 at 11:32 pm

    The sentence is designed for them to clearly go back to jail … This is impossible

    • Brittaney Thomas on April 25, 2016 at 12:21 am

      Next time they will think before they decide to do dumb things. I also agree with the judge.

  5. Observant on April 26, 2016 at 5:56 am

    Ok..I get that they deserve their punishment. ..but what if they hadn’t blindsided them first…maybe the out come would have been different. .so the victims are also to blame..However I think their punishment in this case is the life sentence of those scars they received for being stupid. They should not receive full payment for their treatment. ..half should be their responsibility since they also contributed to the mess. Word…stupid actions are not worth it. .either side still comes out a loser…Think before you act

  6. Rosa Barnes on April 26, 2016 at 6:00 pm

    Certainly, the numbers of Black individuals who are incarcerated are greater than any other race in this country. I agree both sides were wrong. 4 years confined, if you ask someone who has been there, is a small price to pay for poor choices. Probation for 36 years gives them the freedom to work in the community. Again, choices are involved. Would it be better to serve 40 years and yes people with criminal backgrounds do get jobs. Lastly, when will we as a nation of people learn to care enough for each other that we no longer need discussions like this.

  7. Zaerena on April 27, 2016 at 6:26 am

    About the soical media we can post what ever the fuck we want and if it private yu bitches cant see it right okay my point is yu fucking law pretending tu b asses goes for jugdes cops fbi i d g a f who yu are STAY THE FUCK OUT MY BUISNESS AND STOP HACKING SHIT CUZ IF I GET HACKED I WILL KNOW AND I WILL COME AND FUCK YU UP COP JUDGE I D G A F F WHO YU ARE YU GET MEH