Man convicted of murder for luring the victim to store, shooting him in the chest

On July 2, 2024, a jury convicted Essonie Lennon after a two-day jury trial before the Honorable Judge Charles Maxfield of 10 felony charges including: 1st Degree Murder, Attempted Robbery, Shooting into an Occupied Vehicle, Abduction, and several firearm-related charges. These charges stem from the December 23, 2021 shooting death of Michael Neblett at Autumn Lakes Apartments in the City of Newport News.

The jury heard evidence that Lennon had exchanged messages with Neblett on the evening of December 23, 2021, and they planned to meet at the WaWa off of Beechmont Drive. Once Lennon arrived at the WaWa, he pulled out a firearm, pointed it at Neblett, said “You already know what time it is bitch,” and attempted to rob him of his personal property. Lennon then fired a shot into the vehicle, which pierced Neblett in the chest and ultimately killed him.

“Our office will diligently pursue the prosecution of every person who commits acts of gun violence in this city. I am proud of our team’s efforts on this case, and of our law enforcement partners in the Newport News Police Department. My heart breaks for the victim’s family; and they remain in our prayers,” said Commonwealth’s Attorney Howard Gwynn.

The case was investigated by the Newport News Police Department’s Detective McKinley, with important assistance from the NNPD digital forensics team, including Detectives Neidengard and Torres. It was prosecuted on behalf of the Commonwealth’s Attorney by Senior Assistant Commonwealth’s Attorney Lawson and Assistant Commonwealth’s Attorney Thompson.

Lennon will be sentenced on October 4 and is facing a maximum sentence of life in prison for the 1st Degree Murder Conviction.

Newport News Commonwealth’s Attorney
Phone: 757-926-7443
2501 Washington Avenue, 6th Floor
Newport News, VA 23607

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The Newport News Commonwealth’s Attorney prosecutes criminal cases that occur within the City of Newport News, on behalf of the citizens of the Commonwealth. The elected Commonwealth’s Attorney is Mr. Howard E. Gwynn.