GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — A Grand Rapids man who shot his pregnant girlfriend, killing her and the unborn child, will spend decades in prison.

“As it stands right now, you will spend more time in prison than you’ve been alive,” the judge said.

Dealeyon Franklin, 24, was sentenced Monday to between 25 and 50 years in prison for second-degree murder and a concurrent 15 to 30 years for assault of a pregnant individual causing miscarriage, plus two years for felony firearm.

An undated courtesy photo of Marissa Valdez.
An undated courtesy photo of Marissa Valdez.

Authorities say he shot Marissa Valdez, 24, nine times on Sept. 8, 2021, at the apartment where they lived on Burke Avenue NE near Diamond Avenue in Grand Rapids. The couple already had two young children and they were in the apartment when their mother was murdered.

Franklin had no serious criminal record and Grand Rapids police had not responded to any previous calls of domestic violence at the home.

“This monster not only took a mother, but a daughter, a friend, a best friend, a little and big sister, an aunt, a cousin, a sister-in-law, a co-worker and a potential wife to a real man,” one of Valdez’s four brothers, Nico Valdez, said at the sentencing hearing.

He described his sister as “bright and shining” and the “glue of the family — and still manages to continue to even be that when she’s not here.” In the gallery, loved ones wept.

“I’m here to say that I’m not scared of you, Dealeyon, and neither was Marissa,” Nico Valdez said. “How dare you think you have the right to just end her life and take her away from her own kids and family? If your life was so bad, you should have just left. See, a real man would walk away with his head held high.”

Marissa Valdez's brother, Nico Valdez, addresses Dealeyon Franklin during sentencing on June 27, 2022.
Nico Valdez addresses Dealeyon Franklin during sentencing on June 27, 2022.

Nico Valdez and a large group of family and friends wore purple T-shirts shirts to honor Marissa Valdez and speak out against domestic violence.

“You want to know what she did that made her the most courageous person that ever lived? She loved you. She loved you. She loved you to death, literally,” Nico Valdez continued. “She took her love for you with her to the grave.”

“I hope you rot in hell, Dealeyeon, in hell,” he said.

Franklin’s attorney told the court Franklin took responsibility for his actions and that “his remorse is real.”

Asked by the judge if he had anything to say, Franklin said, “I just want to say that I’m sorry to everybody.” He said he had to live every day with the choice he made.

“I know I’ll never forgive myself,” he said. “I’m just, I’m really sorry. I’m sorry.”

Judge Christina Elmore acknowledged his remorse but said that didn’t undo what he had done.

“Words really can’t do anything,” she said. “They’re just words.”

“You shot Miss Valdez. Not once, not twice, but nine times with a 40-caliber weapon,” Elmore continued. “…Why you wanted to shoot somebody who loved you and arguably you must have had some feelings for nine times, I’ll never know.”

She called it a “tragic, tragic situation,” saying Franklin had thrown away Valdez’s life, his own life, condemned his innocent children to lives without their mother and victimized his unborn son, who “didn’t even get to take his first breath.”