The sentencing of a man convicted of the 2017 slaying of a woman he’d dated for eight years was delayed again Tuesday in Fredericksburg Circuit Court.

Cortez Antonio Mills, 35, was convicted in March of first-degree murder and two firearm charges in connection with the Sept. 9, 2017, slaying of 26-year-old Antoinette Beverly. Beverly was in her car on Palmer Street in Fredericksburg that night when she was shot in the head.

A jury recommended a life sentence for Mills, but his formal sentencing was delayed for the second time Tuesday after Judge Gordon Willis granted defense attorney Jim Ilijevich’s request to be removed from Mills’ case.

In a motion filed in circuit court, Ilijevich wrote that the relationship between he and Mills has deteriorated since Mills’ conviction. He said Mills has accused him of colluding with prosecutors and will not listen to or accept any of Illijevich’s counsel.

Mills has written several letters to the court in which he criticized Ilijevich’s representation and trial strategy.

Willis granted the request for Ilijevich to be removed from the case and appointed Terence Patton as Mills’ new attorney. Patton will be the fourth attorney appointed to represent Mills since his arrest in 2017.

Commonwealth’s Attorney LaBravia Jenkins said she is frustrated by what she believes are delay tactics by Mills. She said Beverly’s family and supporters “deserve to have closure, and he’s preventing them from having that.”

Willis set a status hearing for Aug. 9, at which point a new sentencing date is expected to be set. Mills will be able to appeal his convictions up to 30 days after he is formally sentenced.

The evidence presented at trial showed that Beverly had put Mills out of her Caroline County home a week before her death. On the day of the slaying, she and Mills exchanged multiple text messages before Beverly drove to Palmer Street, where Mills was staying with his aunt.

Following a conversation, Beverly was shot in the head, chest and elbow. Her car smashed into a utility pole after she was shot.

Mills fled but turned himself in the next day in Spotsylvania County. He claimed that Beverly made some “gross and vile” comments and spit on him before he blacked out and “lost it.” He said he didn’t remember the actual shooting.

The defense never denied that Mills killed Beverly, but argued that it was something less than first-degree murder.

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Keith Epps: 540/374-5404

kepps@freelancestar.com

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