Georgia sheriff guilty of murder

July 10, 2002 at 4:22 PM
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ALBANY, Ga., July 10 (UPI) -- A former Georgia sheriff was convicted Wednesday of the murder of his elected successor, who was shot to death in the driveway of his home three days before he was scheduled to be sworn into office.

Defeated DeKalb County Sheriff Sidney Dorsey was found guilty of 12 of the 15 charges against him, including murder, racketeering, theft by taking and violating the oath of office.

Dorsey, 62, was charged with directing two DeKalb sheriff's deputies and two other men to shoot Sheriff-elect Derwin Brown, who had campaigned with a promise to investigate allegations of corruption during Dorsey's four years in office.

"The corruption had a lot to do with the verdict on the murder count," DeKalb District Attorney J. Tom Morgan said after the verdict.

During the trial, Morgan said Dorsey ordered aides to do his "dirty work" because he "was so consumed with power he could not give it up."

The jury of 11 women and one man deliberated three days before reaching its decision. The trial was held in Albany, about 200 miles south of Atlanta, because of extensive publicity about the Dec. 15, 2000, shooting.

"There was in my mind nobody else who had a reason to want Derwin dead. He was the only person," Brown's widow, Phyllis Brown, said after the verdict.

Dorsey, whose attorneys pointed out inconsistencies in prosecution testimony but presented no witnesses or evidence in his defense, showed little emotion as the verdicts were announced. He could be sentenced to life in prison without parole.

Of the four other men accused in the case, two were granted immunity in return for their testimony. The two other men were acquitted in March.

"We had to make an immunity agreement to get all of the pieces of the puzzle," Morgan said.

A member of Dorsey's family said the verdict would be appealed. "It is not the final verdict," said Carl Dorsey, a cousin of the former sheriff.

"The decision of 12 jurors can be and will be appealed if it goes contrary to the defense. We have that right to appeal. We will vigorously seek it and pursue it," Dorsey said.

"We know as a family and based our relationship with him all our lives, that he's not capable of rendering such a horrendous act as the killing of one of his fellow peace officers," he said.

Defense attorney Brian Steel told jurors during the trial that Dorsey was the victim of a "witch hunt." He noted that former deputy Melvin Walker and sheriff's department job applicant David Ramsey were acquitted on charges they conspired with Dorsey to murder Brown.

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