If it weren’t for Antressa Summers and the $50 Clark County prosecutors say she felt she was owed, her 21-year-old son wouldn’t be facing a murder trial in the death of her boyfriend.
But prosecutors stopped short of charging the 41-year-old Summers with murder, and she was sentenced last week in connection with the attempted robbery of Anthony Merrit moments before he was shot in the head.
On the September night Summers went to collect the money from Merritt, she brought his roommate, Antoine Bronson, and her 1½-year-old grandson, Troy Summers. She also took one of her BB guns to intimidate and scare Merritt.
On the drive over, she called up the baby’s father, her son Rolandis Summers, whom prosecutors said she knew carried a revolver.
At a central Las Vegas Valley apartment complex, Antressa Summers told her son to wait outside in her SUV with the child, while she and Bronson tried to get cash from Merritt.
But prosecutors said the case was about more than money.
Antressa Summers had been upset because Merritt, 33, started seeing other women. Bronson thought Merritt was the reason they were being evicted from their apartment. Merritt had tried to confront Bronson about his heavy drug use.
In her last interview with police, Antressa Summers threatened to kill herself “because she got Merritt killed, but she never intended for Merritt to get killed,” according to court records. “She just wanted the money she was promised.”
After emotional pleas from three of Merritt’s family members Wednesday, District Judge Stefany Miley sentenced Antressa Summers to six to 16 years in prison.
In that same hearing, prosecutor John Giordani tried to link Summers to the graver charge, saying she “should be on the hook for first-degree murder but because of evidentiary issues ...”
But her defense attorney, Caesar Almase, objected, and the judge advised Giordani to steer away from talking about charges Summers never faced.
Though Antressa Summers has a history of felony convictions on theft and forgery charges, Almase said she is not a violent criminal.
“It doesn’t make sense that a person would bring a BB gun to scare an individual if in fact they were also going to conspire to murder that individual,” Almase told the judge at the sentencing hearing.
Summers, who pleaded guilty in April to conspiracy to commit robbery and attempted robbery, apologized for her role.
“There’s not much I can say to bring Merritt back,” she told the judge. “I’m truly, truly sorry for what happened. The way things are worded and said was not supposed to happen. … I pray that you guys find it in your heart to forgive me. Not now, but when the time is right.”
The weekend before Merritt’s death, Antressa Summers let Bronson stay at her Henderson apartment, and she expected $50 in return. They planned to steal that money and more from Merritt, prosecutors said.
The details of what ensued were compiled in part from police reports with interviews of Antressa Summers and court transcripts from a grand jury indictment.
At one point, Bronson had asked Rolandis Summers for a gun to “deal with Merritt,” according to court records. But the gun cost $250, and Bronson didn’t have that much cash.
In the dark early morning of Sept. 10, they pulled up to Merritt’s complex in the 200 block of Orland Street, near where U.S. Highway 95 crosses Jones Boulevard, while Rolandis Summers waited in the SUV with his son.
Authorities believe he knew he was there to do something other than watch his baby because he had dressed in all black.
He heard yelling and started to walk upstairs, but his mother turned him away.
The quarrel continued and became louder, as Merritt tried to force Antressa Summers out of the apartment.
“I’ll bring a real burner right now,” she reportedly said in a threat to Merritt.
Then she called for her son, who hopped out of the SUV and ran upstairs to apartment 15, gripping the .357 revolver in his pants. Bronson tried to stop Rolandis Summers from going inside.
“He thinks she’s in danger,” court records said. “He’s going in there to protect his mom.”
The place was dark, illuminated only by a hall light, but he could see his mother in the back bedroom, struggling with Merritt, who was holding his pants up.
“I’m Piru Blood,” Merritt said, referencing a California gang. “What are you doing in my apartment?”
Antressa Summers was trying to hold Merritt back, when prosecutors said her son fired a shot into the left side of his head.
Rolandis Summers then turned the gun on Bronson and shot him in the hip because he believed he would snitch, according to court records.
Prosecutors said Merritt’s debit card was found on the bed near his body, evidence that Bronson and Antressa Summers wanted more money from Merritt.
Initially, Summers told the police that a drug dealer named “Chris” drove them to Merritt’s apartment to collect $400 for drugs and then an argument ensued and Chris fired and fled in a silver SUV.
But later, when detectives confronted her about her own silver 2003 Mitsubishi Outlander being used as the getaway vehicle, she told police that her son killed Merritt.
Authorities never charged Antressa Summers with murder because they could not prove she conspired with her son to shoot Merrit. Bronson faces no charges in the robbery or the slaying.
“Whatever we believe may be different than what we can prove,” prosecutor Brad Turner said. “One of the problems we have in this case is that the witnesses are all involved.”
Rolandis Summers is scheduled for trial in October on three counts: murder with use of a deadly weapon, attempted murder with the use of a deadly weapon and burglary while in possession of a deadly weapon.
Almase told the judge Antressa Summers had been romantically involved with Merritt for years, but his family members said they never met her.
Ranese Merritt-Jones, his aunt, believes Summers was culpable in the death, though she didn’t pull the trigger.
Dionna Merritt, his sister, called Antressa Summers “a coward” at sentencing.
“There’s is nothing you can say that is going to bring my brother back,” she said. “There is no amount of time that is worth my brother’s life. My family has been given a life sentence of pain, and Antressa should face the same amount of time.”
Contact reporter David Ferrara at 702-380-1039 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Find him on Twitter: @randompoker.