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Man sentenced in ‘senseless killing’ of Joey Vitale

Posted: 4:45 PM, Nov 07, 2019
Updated: 2019-11-07 17:17:29-05

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — The man guilty of murdering a father of two last year will spend the next 50 to 100 years in prison.

Tony Streets Jr. faced a Kent County judge on Thursday in a courtroom filled with Joey Vitale's friends and family, some of whom gave statements before Streets Jr. was sentenced.

"As a little girl, all I ever wanted growing up was to marry a good man and have a family of our own," Vitale's wife Christina said to the judge. "I was blessed enough in this life to have just that only to have it ripped away from me for no apparent reason."

On Oct. 3, 2018, Streets Jr. got drunk and went to Burton Heights Pizza in Grand Rapids. Vitale owned the restaurant and was working that night. When Streets Jr. started causing a disturbance, Vitale intervened.

Streets Jr. stabbed Vitale with a large pizza knife before fleeing the scene in a stolen car.

"He would have befriended you, had you given him the time," Vitale's father Frank said to Streets Jr. in the courtroom. "He would have been your friend like he was with so many."

Despite his injuries, Vitale tried to drive himself to the hospital. He crashed on Wealthy Street Southeast and was taken to the hospital, where he died the next morning.

Vitale's two young daughters were not in the courtroom on Thursday, but they were mentioned many times.

"His girls will never be able to feel the love that he has for them, although we as a family will let them know exactly how much he loved those girls," Frank said.

Judge Mark Trusock said Streets Jr. was on probation for a previous crime the night he stabbed Vitale. Prior to that, he's served eight other jail sentences, been placed on probation three times and been to prison twice.

"This was an absolutely senseless killing," Trusock said. "You took away from these little girls, his wife, their family, these friends, this man who was living life the way he was supposed to."

Trusock said Streets Jr. wrote him a letter attempting to reverse his guilty plea, which was disregarded at the sentencing.

"You are clearly a danger to society and you are someone that should never be allowed out of prison," Trusock said.