Former sheriff gets life for murder

By MIKE COOPER  |  Aug. 15, 2002 at 5:17 PM
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DECATUR, Ga., Aug. 15 (UPI) -- Former DeKalb County Sheriff Sidney Dorsey, convicted of ordering four men to kill his elected successor days before he was to take office, was sentenced Thursday to life in prison plus 23 years on murder and corruption charges.

Dorsey, 62, did not react as DeKalb Superior Court Judge Cynthia Becker ordered the life sentence for the killing of sheriff-elect Derwin Brown in front of Brown's suburban Atlanta home on Dec. 15, 2000.

Convicted of organizing Brown's murder to block his successor's plans to investigate corruption in the sheriff's department, Dorsey was also found guilty of racketeering, sending paid sheriff's employees on personal errands and violating his oath of office.

He was found guilty in July of murder and 11 counts of corruption by a jury of 11 women and one man during a trial that was moved to southwest Georgia, about 200 miles south of Atlanta, because of pretrial publicity.

The life sentence on the murder charge was mandatory under Georgia law. Dorsey could have been sentenced to an additional 40 years on the additional corruption charges.

Dorsey maintained his innocence as he was sentenced on Thursday and his attorneys filed a motion for a new trial.

"I am not or was not a party to the murder of Derwin Brown. I did not orchestrate, I did not plan, I did not play a role in the diabolical, horrible murder of the sherrif-elect," Dorsey said.

"I'm going to be in prison on the outside, but I'll be free on the inside, because I do not have the blood of the sheriff-elect on my hands," he said.

Becker she agreed to a request by Brown's attorneys that he be held at an undisclosed prison in the Atlanta area.

Lead prosecutor J. Tom Morgan asked for tough sentencing of Dorsey because "words cannot express the magnitude of this case."

"This community has suffered a great deal because of the crimes of this defendant," Morgan said.

Brown's widow, Phyllis Brown, told Dorsey during the sentencing hearing that "I have nothing left." "I don't have his arms to wrap around me and I don't have anything left," she said.

"You called him the lowest scumbag of the earth. I beg to differ. That is you. That is you. As you watch yourself in the mirror, you are the lowest scumbag of the earth," she told Dorsey.

Brown has previously said she plans to file a lawsuit seeking at least $50 million in damages from the DeKalb County because Dorsey was in office when he ordered Brown's murder.

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