Man convicted in murder of Chesapeake woman sentenced to 40 years

Justin Cornell in court May 24, 2016. A jury found him guilty three days later for the murder of Brianna Armstrong. WAVY-TV 10 Photo.
Justin Cornell in court May 24, 2016. A jury found him guilty three days later for the murder of Brianna Armstrong. WAVY-TV 10 Photo.

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (WAVY) — The man convicted of killing and dismembering his co-worker 2015 has been sentenced to 40 years in prison.

A jury in May found Justin Cornell guilty for the murder of Brianna Armstrong, and recommended a maximum sentence of 40 years.

Cornell and Armstrong worked together at Knuckles ‘N Knots and had once had a romantic relationship. In court Wednesday, Cornell told the judge that he misses Armstrong, did not kill her and extended condolences to her family.

The judge said there was no doubt in his mind that Cornell killed Armstrong, calling the crime “horrific.”

Armstrong had been missing for several weeks in 2015 when a biker found human remains near the Great Dismal Swamp. The body was later confirmed to be Armstrong’s. Cornell was later charged with murder for her death.

“When you see it on television and you hear the families talk about it, it’s so horrific, you can’t really wrap your mind around it because it’s someone you know and cared about,” said Armstrong’s cousin, Alicia Holmes.

Prosecutors said Armstrong’s clothing, DNA, and a number of knives and swords were found at Cornell’s house, and that underwear with Cornell’s DNA and a receipt with his address were found with Armstrong’s remains.

“He deserves to be put in a place where he can never hurt another individual,” Holmes said.

Cornell’s mother, Christine Cornell, does not believe her son killed Armstrong, pointing out that the Medical Examiner never determined the cause of death.

“There was no malice here. You know, it’s really sad to think that anybody could be set up,” she said.

Defense attorney Diallo Morris said his client has 30 days to appeal.

“He’s looking forward to the time when he can appeal and he’s confident that he’ll be exonerated on appeal,” he said.