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2 Get Life in Murder-for-Hire Slaying of Sheriff-Elect

November 22, 2005|From Associated Press

ATLANTA — Two men were sentenced to life in prison Monday in the assassination of a sheriff-elect who was gunned down on orders from the man he defeated at the polls.

Melvin Walker and David Ramsey were convicted in August on federal charges of conspiracy to commit murder for hire. Prosecutors said they were promised jobs and perks to kill incoming DeKalb County Sheriff Derwin Brown.

Brown was ambushed and shot at least a dozen times in front of his home in December 2000, just days before he was to have succeeded Sheriff Sidney Dorsey.

Suspicion immediately fell on Dorsey, who was later convicted of plotting the murder and is serving a life sentence.

Prosecutors said 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.

Brown's mother, Burvena, held a picture of her son in uniform as she was rolled in a wheelchair to the front of the courtroom to face the men.

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

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

Federal prosecutor Bobbi Bernstein told the judge that 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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