Headley takes deal, pleads guilty to 2nd-degree murder in 2018 slaying

Published: Jan. 20, 2023 at 7:38 AM EST|Updated: Jan. 20, 2023 at 4:43 PM EST
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BURLINGTON, Vt. (WCAX) - The admitted killer in the 2018 murder of Anako “Annette” Lumumba of South Burlington took a plea deal on Friday.

Emotions ran high in the Burlington courtroom as Leroy Headley faced a judge and Lumumba’s family. Headley pleaded guilty to second-degree murder, admitting he shot Lumumba, his girlfriend and the mother of his two children. He now faces 20 years to life behind bars.

 Anako "Annette" Lumumba
Anako "Annette" Lumumba (WCAX)

Chittenden County State’s Attorney Sarah George says the family has been strong and is happy to have justice while avoiding a possible trial.

“Anytime that we feel like we can get a just outcome while avoiding that trauma for them, I think is a really successful prosecution,” George said. “It doesn’t bring Annette back but it does keep the family from having to go through that and the unknowns.”

It was a day five years in the making. Headley fled the murder scene on Southview Drive in South Burlington in 2018. He was finally captured in Jamaica in 2020. But COVID delayed the trial and the eventual plea agreement.

Friday, six of Lumumba’s family members spoke to the court.

“Leroy Headley, you deserve everything coming your way. You rot your years in jail and never see the light of day,” Lumumba’s cousin Joyce said, holding back tears.

Headley himself broke down in tears as his daughter took the stand and spoke directly to him.

“You ever think of the trauma I have had to go through because my own father decided to be the cause of my mother’s last breath?” she asked. “If you wanted to walk away, you could have done that peacefully.”

Leroy Headley breaks down in tears as his daughter speaks to him directly in court.
Leroy Headley breaks down in tears as his daughter speaks to him directly in court.(WCAX)

Headley eventually spoke to the court, admitting the crime and apologizing.

“I shot and killed her and I should have not done that,” Headley said. “I am truly sorry about it.”

He then turned to the family to apologize to them, even calling the woman he shot his “soul mate.”

After court, Lumumba’s brother, Adolphe, who was at the scene the night of the murder, said the family will continue to move forward.

“For us, we just have to, I guess carry on her legacy and be a family. It’s just how we grow up-- we are family,” Lumumba said.

I asked Adolphe Lumumba whether he felt Headley’s apology was sincere. Lumumba said there is a big difference between being sorry and saying sorry.

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