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Ex-Georgia Sheriff Convicted in Ambush Killing of Successor

Former Georgia Sheriff Sidney Dorsey was convicted on July 10 for ordering the assassination of his political rival, a man who defeated him for sheriff in the 2000 elections.

Dorsey was convicted of first-degree murder for the slaying of Sheriff-elect Derwin Brown. Brown ran against Dorsey in the 2000 elections and defeated him. However, three days before he was to take office, Brown was shot 12 times and killed by a man who popped out of the bushes lining Brown's driveway.

Dorsey, who is 62, was elected in 1996 as DeKalb County's first black sheriff. As sheriff, Brown's sole duty was to run the county's 3,700-bed jail, its $50 million budget and 750 employees. In addition to the murder charge, prosecutors also say that Dorsey ran his department to suit his personal needs, i.e., making deputies run personal errands for his private business, forcing women to submit to sex, and demanding bribes.

In fact, before being charged with Brown's murder, Dorsey was already under investigation on charges of bribery, thefts-and violation of his oath of office. In addition to being convicted of murder, Dorsey was also found guilty of 11 counts relatin gto the bribery and corruption. He will automatically be sentenced to life in prison for the murder.

According to prosecutors, this was not the first time Dorsey was involved in a homicide. He killed a man in a shootout while an Atlanta policeman in 1965 but was cleared of any wrongdoing. And in 1970, he killed another man during a fight at a gas station. In the latter case Dorsey was charged with manslaughter but escaped punishment after claiming that his gun discharged accidentally.

"He's gotten away with it before. He's so arrogant," said a DeKalb County District Attorney.

But he did not get away this time. When Brown entered the sheriff's -race -in the -summer of 2000, he did so with the pledge to clean up the office. Not only was Dorsey under investigation at that time for stealing jail resources, but every single DeKalb sheriff since 1964 had been investigated, indicted or imprisoned.

Brown trounced Dorsey in a runoff election. He then announced he would fire 38 of the department's 700 deputies.

Prosecutors initially had little to go on except a few 9mm shells. But they caught a break when Dorsey's protégé Patrick Cuffy was arrested in an unrelated killing of a man who was found dead outside Cuffy's apartment. Cuffy avoided prosecution in that case by giving information in Brown's killing and agreeing to testify against Dorsey.

According to Cuffy, Dorsey wanted Brown out of the way so that he could again run for sheriff. That's when Dorsey enlisted the aid of the two alleged triggermen, former deputy Melvin Walker, and friend David Ramsey. Witnesses testified that Dorsey wrote the words "Kill Derwin Brown" on a note and played the song "I Shot the Sheriff" following Brown's death.

However, both Walker and Ramsey were acquitted in a trial which took place four months before Dorsey was tried. Prosecutors urged jurors to overlook those acquittals and focus on the other evidence, including the testimony of Duffy.

Dorsey showed no reaction as the verdicts were read. But Brown's widow, Phylis, cried so hard she fell to the floor of the courtroom.

Dorsey's attorney, who also defended Baltimore Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis, said Dorsey will appeal the verdict. They noted that Cuffy was motivated to lie to escape his own legal difficulties and was further motivated by a possible book deal. They labeled Cuffy as a "monster of Sidney Dorsey's creation."

The case was so emotionally charged that following the verdict the lone male juror left the jury box to hug and console Brown's mother.

Source: The Seattle Times

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