By Caroline Boras
Anthony Bryant Jr. was sentenced Thursday to five years in prison for the March 2015 fatal stabbing of James Sealey in the parking lot of a Leesburg convenience store.
Bryant, 23, of Lorton, was convicted of voluntary manslaughter after entering an Alford plea in January. In the plea, he did not admit guilt, but acknowledged that prosecutors had enough evidence to obtain a conviction. Judge Jeanette A. Irby also ordered Bryant to serve three years of post-release probation and to undergo substance abuse screenings while in prison and during his probation period.
The stabbing occurred March 28, 2015, after a fight broke out in the Plaza Street 7-Eleven parking lot. The defense said Bryant pulled out his pocket knife to protect his cousin, Ledeil Powell, who had fallen to the ground during the fight. Bryant stabbed Sealey twice in the abdomen before police came to the scene.
“I was looking over the notes, trying to reconcile the versions of events of what happened that evening,” Irby said during the sentencing hearing. “None of us know what happened that evening.”
The defense and prosecution presented evidence that painted two different pictures of that night’s events. The defense pulled from the police report, which included statements from people who saw the fight happen. The eyewitnesses together did not point to what really occurred during the fight.
The prosecution argued that the defense was trying to paint a clear picture of what happened that night, when too many factors were unknown.
“What we had here were two young men with their lives ahead of them,” Irby said. “One man has been lost to us forever because of the poor decisions of Mr. Bryant.”
Before leaving the courtroom, Bryant apologized to Sealey’s family, who had gathered to see the sentencing.
“I wasn’t trying to hurt anybody,” he said. “I just wanted them to leave us alone.”
Bryant was taken back to the Adult Detention Center, where he was already incarcerated for breaking the conditions of his bond.