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.