Two sentenced to life in murder-for-hire killing of Ga. sheriff-elect


By ERRIN HAINES
Associated Press Writer

ATLANTA- Two men convicted in the murder-for-hire killing of a man who was elected sheriff of DeKalb County were sentenced Monday to life in federal prison.

Melvin Walker and David Ramsey were convicted in August of conspiracy to commit murder-for-hire. They had been acquitted in a state trial in March 2002.

Sheriff-elect Derwin Brown was shot at least a dozen times in front of his home on Dec. 15, 2000, just days before he was to have succeeded DeKalb County Sheriff Sidney Dorsey, the man he had defeated in that year's election.

Suspicions immediately turned to Dorsey, who was convicted of plotting the murder in a separate state court trial and is serving a life prison sentence.

Prosecutors argued that Walker, the suspected triggerman, was promised a promotion to deputy sheriff if he helped kill Brown. Ramsey, the alleged backup shooter, was promised a job as a detention officer, they said.

The defense argued that two co-conspirators granted immunity by prosecutors were the real killers and that they accused Walker and Ramsey to save themselves.

Both Walker and Ramsey sat stoically Monday as Brown's relatives and supporters spoke of their loss.

Brown's mother, Burvena Brown, called the verdict "the end of a long fight."

"I experienced a great deal of pain and anger for almost five years," she said, holding a picture of her son. "It's a pain so severe that it seems I myself have been dying a slow death."

Federal prosecutor Bobbi Bernstein told the judge Walker and Ramsey stole the trust of the entire community when they killed Brown.

"This is not bitterness, this is not vengeance, but finally, justice," Bernstein said.

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