Onetime family friend chastised

Days after Giovanna Simmons, a mother of two, died from a gunshot wound suffered during the 2006 robbery of her apartment, Abell Dieudonne attended her funeral in Los Angeles.

It made sense. Dieudonne was a friend of the family, Simmons' sisters said.

Several months passed before they learned that Dieudonne was being charged with the robbery and Simmons' murder.

After pleading guilty in April to second-degree murder, robbery with use of a deadly weapon, and conspiracy to commit robbery, Dieudonne was sentenced Wednesday to 21 years to life in prison by Judge Doug Smith.

Authorities said in December 2006, Dieudonne led Semario McNair to the apartment believing they would find cash and drugs because Simmons' boyfriend was a small-time dealer.

It has never been established who actually pulled the trigger, though both men have pleaded guilty to second-degree murder.

During the sentencing hearing, Dieudonne attempted to express sorrow for what happened. "I apologize. I'm very remorseful," he said.

Simmons' family and friends weren't forgiving.

They said Simmons would never have let McNair, a stranger, into her apartment. They believe she opened the door because Dieudonne was a family friend.

"You need to burn in hell for what you did to my sister," said Simmons' younger sister, Dashaunda Gladney.

Simmons' friend, Rasheda Williams, called Dieudonne a liar. "You left two kids without a mother."

Both women chastised Dieudonne for attending Simmons' funeral.

Wayne Brown, Simmons' boyfriend at the time of the shooting, took a different tack, offering a loosely veiled threat of street justice.

"I don't want you to rot in hell. I want you to get out tomorrow," Brown said.

Brown also said that he wasn't a drug dealer. He said that he had left cash on a counter to pay the rent the day Dieudonne was first invited over as a family friend.

Brown said the sight of the rent money probably enticed Dieudonne.

Prosecutors said Dieudonne and McNair were a team who routinely robbed known drug dealers.

Both men have been previously convicted of robbery and burglary, according to court records.

Contact reporter Francis McCabe at or 702-380-1039.