WASHINGTON — A Maryland woman will spend four years behind bars for shooting her husband at a D.C. luxury hotel last year. A judge handed down the sentence in a D.C. courtroom Friday.
Furious supporters stormed out of the courthouse after DC Superior Court Judge Michael O'Keefe doubled the sentence Shanteari Weems' lawyer had worked out in a plea deal with the U.S. Attorney's Office.
"Very, very disappointed," said Tarese Hadita, a childhood friend.
Shanteari Weems shot her husband, James Weems in late July 2022 in the formerly named Mandarin Oriental hotel in Southwest, now known as The Salamander DC. She accused her husband, a retired Baltimore police officer, of molesting children at her day care business.
She pleaded guilty to two charges related to the shooting back in July. Prosecutors recommended a two-year sentence for aggravated assault and a gun charge. Judge O'Keefe called that recommendation too lenient, given that Weems had brought a gun into the District illegally and shot her husband with premeditation and the intent to maim him.
Shanteari Weems' lawyer, Tony Garcia, said Weems thought she would be facing a maximum of two more years in prison, and possibly much less.
"She was stunned," Garcia said. "She was obviously in tears. She's upset. She thought in the worst case she'd be be looking at another two years."
Jolene Ivey, a Prince George's County council member, former candidate for Maryland lieutenant governor, and the wife of Rep. Glenn Ivey (D-MD) had been in the courtoom to support Weems.
"I am outraged. I cannot believe it," Ivey said. "I was sure she'd be walking out with us today, and she should be."
Baltimore County Police have charged James Weems with molesting four children, boys and girls, 9, 10 and 11-years-old.
"I was supposed to protect those children," Shaneari Weems said in a tearful statement to the court Friday. "My husband was supposed to help me protect those kids. I bear so much guilt because the person I chose to love and trust turned out to be the one the kids needed protecting from."
Multiple DC Police officers responded to Mandarin Oriental, located at 1330 Maryland Avenue Southwest, around 7:40 p.m. on July 21, 2022, after reports of a man being shot on the eighth floor. Hotel management informed officials that initially they had a fire alarm go off in that room, and when they went to check, they saw blood on the wall.
When the officers arrived at the hotel room Shanteari Weems began to talk to them through the door. Officers said they asked Weems to come out so they could assist the man that was shot, but she then allegedly informed them that she would shoot herself if they came into the room.
As the conversation continued through the door, and the officers tried to confirm if there was a shooting victim, Shanteari Weems allegedly yelled, "He's a child molester."
Police said James Weems then told officers through the door that he was shot in the leg. After the confirmation, officers went into the room at 8:11 p.m. to treat James Weems and detain his wife, according to court documents.
While detained, Shanteari Weems told police she had been married to the man she shot for five years and that they lived together in Baltimore. She said that numerous children at her day care business recently told her he had been molesting them. Shanteari Weems says she reported her husband to Baltimore authorities.
In the courtroom Friday, prosecutors shared a PowerPoint presentation of the case details to give the judge context of the shooting, saying they believe the case was about more than just the shooting that occurred.
Prosecutors said Shanteari Weems first learned of the allegations against her husband about three days before the shooting. The next day, she spent the night with her husband at the Mandarin Oriental, and then came back on July 21 to shoot him.
The PowerPoint presentation showed text messages from Shanteari Weems to her friends in which she told several people she loved them and apologized.
"This isn't a case where information was thrown upon her the day of the shooting," the prosecuting attorney said.
In addition to the details leading up to the shooting, the prosecution also shared bodyworn camera footage of the moments after the shooting. Officers are seen in the hallway of the hotel shouting through the door. Shanteari Weems is heard saying repeatedly, "We're fine," and telling officers not to come in.
In recommending their sentence, the prosecution recognized that Shanteari Weems had no criminal history before the shooting.
Defense attorneys for Shanteari Weems said the shooting happened because a switch flipped once she learned of the accusations against her husband, and she was overcome. According to the defense, a mother of one of the abused children told Shaneari Weems the abuse happened in a day care transport van.
"The guilt came crashing down on her," the defense said. "She was under the crushing guilt of feeling that she had let these children down."
The defense also pointed to the fact that since the shooting, Shanteari Weems has cooperated with law enforcement in the case against her husband.
During sentencing, Judge O'Keefe said there needs to be serious consequences for her actions. O'Keefe eventually handed down a sentence of 48 months in prison for the assault charge, and 20 months in prison for the gun charge, to be served at the same time.
Garcia said they are looking at the possibility of appeal.
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