DOYLESTOWN >> A mother and daughter pleaded guilty but mentally ill to five counts of first-degree murder and one count of criminal conspiracy Monday, Sept. 28 in the slayings of their relatives, three of them children, last year in their apartment in Morrisville.
Shana Selena Decree, 47, and her 21-year-old daughter Dominique Kiaran Decree will serve five consecutive life sentences as part of the negotiated plea, which was accepted by President Judge Wallace H. Bateman, Jr., who described the case as "horrific and sad at the same time."
Between Feb. 23 and Feb. 25, 2019, the pair killed Shana Decree’s children, Naa’Irah Smith, 25, and Damon Decree Jr., 13, both of Morrisville; as well as Shana Decree’s sister, Jamilla Campbell, 42, of Trenton, New Jersey, and Campbell’s 9-year-old twin daughters Imani and Erika Allen.
Their bodies were discovered at about 4 p.m. Feb. 25, 2019, in a bedroom inside Unit S7 of the Robert Morris Apartments, 200 West Bridge Street. Both defendants resided in the apartment.
Autopsies determined Erika Allen, Imani Allen, Damon Decree and Naa’Irah Smith were killed by homicidal asphyxia and Jamilla Campbell was killed by homicidal ligature strangulation. All five deaths were all ruled homicides.
During the investigation by Morrisville Borough Police and Bucks County Detectives, Shana Decree told investigators that all five victims, including the children, wanted to die. Also, during the investigation, Shana and Dominique gave differing accounts of who killed who during the massacre.
Separate mental health professionals offered their opinions that Shana and Dominique Decree were guilty but mentally ill at the time of the murders.
About 16 relatives attended the emotional court hearing, with Damon Decree Sr. speaking about the impact of not only losing his son Damon Jr., but also his first-born Dominique to five life sentences.
He said he will never get to watch his son grow and do the traditional activities a father does with his son. All he has, Decree Sr. said, is "thoughts of what might have been."
Chief Deputy District Attorney Christopher W. Rees read victim impact statements from three other relatives, including Naa’Irah Smith's father and sister, who said it felt "like a bulldozer ran over" her when she heard the news.
After the sentencing, Rees told the media that he had "never dealt with a case as heartbreaking as this, I have never seen a case with this level of sadness, with this level of loss."
"If you have kids, go hug your kids," Rees said. "If you have parents who are still around, if you have brothers and sisters go give them a hug. If you can't give them a hug, give them a call, send then a text, send them an email.
“The one thing that this has brought home to me is that this is all family. Take every last moment and use every last moment to tell your family you love them."
District Attorney Matt Weintraub provided the following statement after the sentencing:
"Today, we mourn with the families of Erica and Imani Allen, Damon Decree, Naa'irah Smith, and Jamilla Campbell, who were all murdered by mother and daughter Shana and Dominique Decree," Weintraub said. "Were it not for their severe mental illness, both would face the death penalty. As it stands, they both will spend the rest of their lives in prison cells separated from the rest of us, as punishment.
"By murdering, Erica, Imani, Damon, Naa'irah, and Jamilla, they’ve decimated entire generations of their own family. It tests my faith in humanity and in God. But I have to believe in both. The alternative is so much worse."
The case was prosecuted by Chief Deputy District Attorney Christopher W. Rees and Deputy District Attorney Kristin McElroy.