Attorney: Henrico mother’s murder trial ‘may sound like a Lifetime movie’

HENRICO COUNTY, Va., -- Day one of the jury trial for a woman accused of killing her boyfriend's son began Monday morning in Henrico Circuit Court.

In 2017, Denise Monique Gay, 48, was charged with the first degree murder of 19-year-old Martre Lamonte Coles. Gay's daughter, 21-year-old Latoya Shantice Gay, was also charged in connection with the crime.

"This case may sound like a Lifetime movie," Commonwealth's Attorney Shannon Taylor explained to the jury during opening arguments.

The Highland Springs graduate's body was found April 2 in a plastic storage container stashed behind an electrical box near the Mondelez International Inc. plant, on Gorman Road, in eastern Henrico.

Brandon Crawley testified he stumbled upon the storage tote while walking through the woods on a lunch break.

"I saw some feet and shoes, so I jumped back. It startled me," Crawley described opening the container. "I then noticed the young boy's face. It spooked me for real."

Prosecutors said Coles was killed at the North Ivy Avenue home that he shared with the Gay's and his father on March 12. Coles was reported missing by his sisters the following day.

Denise Gay was in a relationship with Coles' father.

Martre Lamonte Coles, Denise Monique Gay and Latoya Shantice Gay

"[Martre's] final resting place was in a box...like you would store holiday decorations," Taylor said.

Taylor promised the jury they'd hear testimony from Gay's other daughter, who was 12-years-old at the time, that she witnessed both of the defendants on top of the victim.

Taylor suggested to the jury the theory that Gay and her daughter may have killed Coles in order to get closer to his father.

Denise Gay's attorney, Samuel Simpson, told the jury during opening arguments that the "suspicion of guilt is not enough" to convict his client. Simpson said there were inconsistent and false statements made by Gay's 12-year-old daughter to detectives.

Coles' sister, Michelle Coles, told CBS 6 in 2017 her own theory on why Gay allegedly killed her brother.

"She just didn't like him, I think it had a lot to do with jealousy as far as her position with my father and wanting to be more," she said.

Family members said they will remember the 19-year-old with a big heart who had a zest for life and didn’t deserve to die.

The youngest of eight children had dreams of attending art school in Florida.

This is the second murder trial for Denise Gay.

In December, a jury convicted Gay and her daughter on conspiracy to commit murder of Coles, but were deadlocked on the murder charge.

The new trial is expected to last for five days with Judge Lee Harris Jr. Latoya's trial is scheduled for May.

This is a developing story. Witnesses can submit news tips here.

Anyone with information was asked to call Henrico Police at 804-501-5000 or Crime Stoppers at 804-780-1000.