BELLEVILLE, Ill. – A St. Louis man who was born in prison learned Monday he will probably spend the rest of his life there as well.
St. Clair County Circuit Court Judge Zina Cruse sentenced Tony Hampton, 27, to 75 years behind bars for his role in what she said was a “tragic” and “senseless” situation.
In trying to persuade the court to consider a sentence of natural life, State’s Attorney Brendan Kelly said Hampton had carried out a “cold-blooded execution” of a man who had “no chance to defend himself.”
“He was hunted down like prey,” Kelly told the court.
In December 2015, Malik Robbins, 29, was gunned down outside the Bottoms Up strip club in Brooklyn, Illinois around 4:15 a.m.
Surveillance footage shows Hampton and his co-defendant, Tiye Allen, getting out of a car and opening fire on Robbins as he was leaving the building.
Kelly said Hampton fired at least seven of the eight shots that killed Robbins. Some of them were from a very short distance away, he said.
“They waited for the victim in this case for 20 minutes in their car. When he came out, they surprised him and began shooting. As the victim was laying face down, this defendant (Hampton) shot the victim in the head and neck multiple times. It was an execution,” Kelly said.
Because the firearm was never recovered, Kelly said the video surveillance of the scene was critical to the case. He said it was “rare” that such video even exists for cases like this.
Kelly said following the shooting, Hampton and Allen led police on a high-speed chase and tried to destroy evidence by burning their car. Allen was previously sentenced to 60 years in prison.
Kelly said their motive for the killing remained unknown.
“We will never know what the motive is in this case. There’s a lot of things that occur among people who know each other,” he said.
Hampton’s defense attorney, Dedra Brock-Moore, said the sentence was “fair” given the evidence that was presented to the court.
But she said she wished her client had an opportunity to be fully examined for his mental fitness during the trial.
Brock-Moore told the court Hampton lived a “difficult life” having been born in prison to a woman serving time for drugs.
She said he was tossed around among family members while growing up and suffered physical abuse. He had “no real parents,” she said.
Brock-Moore said for the greater part of 17 years, he had to commit crimes on the street to survive and only had an IQ of 65.
While his actions, she said, were inexcusable, she argued he could be a useful member of society if treated.
“Not receiving love from parents, having to survive to fend for yourself. This is the outcome one could expect,” she said.
It is largely expected, Brock-Moore said, that Hampton will die in prison given the judge’s 75-year prison sentence.
She said he does plan to appeal the ruling.
Kelly said he believed the sentence sent a message to others who might be going down the same path as Hampton.
“There are people who endure terrible things, but that doesn’t mean you get to go around killing someone else on the streets of this community,” he said.
Robbins’ mother, Mara Robbins-Couch, spoke before the court before Hampton was sentenced. She said she loves and misses her son and that his children will have to grow up without a father.
Though she didn’t want to speak on camera, she told 5 On Your Side, she is happy Hampton won’t have a chance to hurt anyone else.