A Baltimore jury convicted Cleveland DeShields Sr. of first-degree murder Wednesday for fatally beating his wife after a night of drinking in November 2018.
DeShields, 59, requested to be sentenced upon the verdict. He received life in prison with the first 25 years to be served without the possibility of parole. The Baltimore State’s Attorney’s Office announced his conviction and prison term Wednesday.
“This case is another heartbreaking example of the devastating outcome of domestic violence,” Baltimore State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby said in a news release about the case.
DeShields has a history of arrests for assault. In 2012, he pleaded guilty to first-degree assault and was sentenced to six years with all but one year and nine months suspended. In 2015, he pleaded guilty to first-degree assault and was sentenced to 20 years with all but five years suspended.
His public defender, Maureen Rowland, said DeShields was a U.S. Army veteran who had a drinking problem. The couple had been married seven years, Rowland said.
“It was an extremely tragic and sad case,” she said. “He had a difficult time himself just coming to terms with the fact that he could do something like that.”
Witnesses told police they were all drinking at a home in the 1700 block of N. Bentalou Street in West Baltimore when Diggins went to sleep on a couch. One witness in the home reported seeing DeShields begin beating his wife, and ran out and called 911.
Police and paramedics arrived to find his wife suffering extensive injuries to her head and face. DeShields was gone.
According to prosecutors, two witnesses identified DeShields as the attacker. Prosecutors also presented evidence to the jury that DNA from Diggins’ sweatshirt matched DeShields. And cellphone data placed DeShields in the area of the home at the time of the attack.
Investigators learned DeShields and his wife had been arguing on and off during the evening and had a history of domestic violence, prosecutors said.