Detroit man sentenced to up to 60 years in French artist's murder

Reuters News
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Posted: Jan 07, 2016 11:13 AM

(Reuters) - A Detroit man convicted of the 2013 felony murder of a French street artist was sentenced on Thursday to up to 60 years in prison, prosecutors said.

Dionte Travis, 19, who was charged as an adult, was found guilty in December by a jury in the killing of Bilal Berreni, whose body was found at a vacant building near downtown Detroit.

Travis was sentenced on Thursday to 30 years to 60 years in prison by Judge Bruce Morrow, the Wayne County Prosecuting Attorney's Office said in a statement.

Berreni, known by the street moniker "Zoo Project," began painting murals in his native Paris neighborhood aged 15. Before he went to Detroit, Berreni had traveled and painted murals in Tunisia in 2011.

Police have said a group that included Travis had decided to rob someone after losing money in a dice game and saw Berreni, whose body was found with a gunshot wound to the head in July 2013. The body of Berreni, who was in his early 20s, was not identified until early 2014.

A jury in September found Travis guilty of armed robbery in the Berreni case, but could not reach a verdict on the murder charge, leading to a retrial. He was sentenced previously to up to 40 years in prison on the armed robbery conviction.

Two other men pleaded guilty to second-degree murder in the case and were sentenced to up to 40 years in prison each. A fourth male was convicted of murder as a juvenile in the case.

(Reporting by David Bailey in Minneapolis; Editing by Alistair Bell)