Mother and daughter sentenced for roles in killing of teen found in storage container

RICHMOND, Va. -- A Henrico County mother and daughter have been sentenced for their roles in the 2017 murder of 19-year-old Martre Lamonte Coles.

Denise Gay, 49, was sentenced to life in prison, while her daughter, LaToya Gay, 23, was sentenced to 30 years in prison in connection to the killing.

LaToya was sentenced to 20 years for first-degree murder and 10 years for conspiracy to commit murder.

Coles, a Highland Springs High School graduate, was found April 2, 2017 in a plastic storage container stashed behind an electrical box in eastern Henrico. Coles’ murder was believed to have happened on March 12.

Martre Lamonte Coles, Denise Monique Gay and Latoya Shantice Gay

Prosecutors say Denise Gay led a calculated plot to kill Coles, her boyfriend’s son, with the help of her daughter LaToya. Prosecutors said for months prior to Coles’ death, Denise Gay searched online for terms: “find something that works like chloroform” and “how long it takes to suffocate someone with duct tape.”

A medical examiner testified that Coles was found with Trazodone, a sedative and antidepressant most commonly used to treat depression. His cause of death was reported as asphyxiation.

During Denise’s trial, Henrico Commonwealth’s Attorney Shannon Taylor suggested the theory that Gay and her daughter may have killed Coles in order to get closer to his father.