A carjacker who killed a St. Louis artist pleaded guilty today in federal court and was sentenced to 25 years in prison.
Demario Hunter, 35, of East St. Louis shot James “Anthony” Sapone in March 2019 in a parking lot near Cherokee Street.
Hunter and two accomplices, Surrayah Hill and Hill’s cousin, Keombra James, roamed the neighborhood that night, looking for someone to steal, according to Hunter’s plea deal.
Sapone and her fiancé, artist Ami Amore ‘, were heading to their car, a 2013 Ford Escape, around 9 p.m. when the trio of car hijackers were passing by, according to federal prosecutors. Alerted by the headlights flash when Sapone clicked on the Escape’s remote start, Hunter moved in.
He admitted to facing Sapone with a 9mm. A fight ensues and Sapone is shot. According to the scenario presented in Hunter’s plea, James tried to get into the escape, but Amore pushed her away. Hunter searched Sapone’s pockets as the injured man died, then he, Hill and James fled in their vehicle with Hill at the wheel, prosecutors said.
The three men were charged with the murder of Sapone in September 2019. The cases against Hill and James are still pending in federal court.
Amore ‘spoke to Riverside hours in 2019, as she and other artists prepared for an art exhibition in tribute to her murdered fiancé.
“I really want people to get the message not to waste your days on things that don’t matter,” she said at the time. “You can take a negative and turn it into a positive.”
Sapone was best known for his photography, often working with digital CGI illustrations and incorporating music into his pieces. The exhibition after his death, titled “Transcendence – The Art of Amore ‘and Anthony Sapone”, was a way for Amore’ to give Sapone the exposure he never imagined he would have.
In a letter sent to court this morning and written before Hunter’s conviction, Amore ‘described the excruciating grief she felt after the fatal attack.
“Grieving is like a virus that doesn’t go away,” she wrote. “He’s sneaking up on you for one reason or no reason. Not a day goes by that I don’t miss him.
She wrote that she re-enacts the events of that night in her head and often wondered about Hunter and what made him do what he did.
“I want to believe that you are an inherently good person, who made bad choices in life and you had no intention of pulling the trigger and killing someone that night, but you picked the wrong people. I want to believe that you care about all the lives you touched, not just mine, but yours with your family, friends and let’s not forget your two accomplices that night ” , she wrote. “Only you know. ”
Almost three years after that night, Amore ‘wrote that she struggled with what had happened but also made a choice.
“I know no one will understand this, but my choice here is to forgive you for what you have done,” she wrote, addressing Hunter. “Not for you, but for me. It takes too much precious energy to hold back hatred and anger.”
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