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In the South Georgia courtroom where he first took the oath as a lawyer, DeKalb County District Attorney J. Thomas Morgan III won the most sensational case of his career. “It’s been a long time,” Morgan said through tears after 12 Dougherty jurors affirmed a verdict convicting former DeKalb County, Ga., Sheriff Sidney C. Dorsey of murder, racketeering and theft. It took them exactly three days to render it. DeKalb Superior Court Judge Cynthia J. Becker moved the trial from Decatur to Albany, Ga., in Dougherty County at the request of Dorsey’s attorneys because of the extensive pretrial publicity in the murder and corruption case. The jury of 11 women and one man, three of them white and nine of them black, convicted Dorsey of the Dec. 15, 2000, murder of his political opponent, Sheriff-elect Derwin Brown. The jury also found Dorsey guilty of two counts of racketeering, violating his oath of office, and eight counts of theft by taking, involving the use of county deputies to chauffeur his family, and to work on county time for his private security firm. The jury acquitted him of two bribery counts and one theft count. Dorsey will be sentenced in DeKalb County. No date has been set. Dorsey, dressed in a black suit, remained rigid as the verdict was read, his face an emotionless mask. But the verdict obviously stunned his attorney, Brian Steel, who has often proclaimed Dorsey’s innocence and claimed the former sheriff was betrayed and framed by former employees he had only sought to help. “Oh, yes sir, we will appeal,” Steel said after the jury was dismissed. Would he have done anything differently in light of the verdict? “Everything’s a mistake now. The man is not guilty and was found guilty of the charges. I feel horrible.” Said co-counsel Donald F. Samuel, “We’re disappointed, obviously.” He said he hadn’t expected the jury to find Dorsey guilty of murder. MOTHER SEEKS FEDERAL ROLE Brown’s mother, Burvena Brown, who has attended every day of the trial and all of the pretrial hearings, said although she and her family are satisfied with Wednesday’s verdict, her family intends to contact the Justice Department in Washington and ask federal prosecutors to investigate the case. Of the four men identified as having gunned down Brown’s son, two were given absolute immunity from prosecution by the state in return for their testimony against Dorsey and the remaining two co-conspirators. Those two co-conspirators — Melvin D. Walker and David I. Ramsey — were acquitted of murder last March by a DeKalb jury. “Someone is guilty of putting those bullets in my son,” Burvena Brown said. “They didn’t come from the sky. And I won’t feel complete until something is done.” Morgan said he welcomes a federal investigation, but added, federal prosecutors “have not shown any interest in this case from the start.” END OF TWO-YEAR PROBE Dorsey went to trial June 10. Wednesday’s verdict was the culmination of a two-year investigation that Morgan initiated in August 2000 as he pursued allegations that Dorsey was using his authority as sheriff, his deputies and county equipment for personal ends. That investigation into corruption at the DeKalb sheriff’s department mushroomed into a more horrific case when Brown was assassinated in his front yard, just days before he was to be sworn into office. Brown’s wife, Phyllis Brown, burst into wracking but silent sobs as Morgan read the verdict aloud to the court at the request of Judge Becker. She and the couple’s son, Robert Brown — who watched his father die and was, like his mother, a witness in the case — embraced as they heard each juror affirm his or her guilty verdict. The judge had warned courtroom spectators that she would tolerate no audible outbursts on penalty of instant removal from the courtroom and possible contempt charges. After the jury was dismissed, Phyllis Brown — tears streaming down her face — embraced an emotional Morgan, crying, “Thank you, thank you, thank you.” Later, after regaining his composure, Morgan said that the verdict vindicated the gut-wrenching intuition that Dorsey was behind Brown’s murder from the moment he first learned of the murder. Brown had campaigned against Dorsey for sheriff during the spring and summer of 2000, promising to root out corruption at the sheriff’s department and the jail and targeting Dorsey as its crooked heart. Dorsey, Morgan said, was clearly a man “who would do anything” to retain his power. Moreover, a Georgia Bureau of Investigation agent covertly taped Dorsey publicly cursing Brown shortly after Dorsey suffered a surprise loss to Brown in an August 2000 primary runoff. “It’s been a long two years,” Morgan said. “Now it’s time to move on.” JURY TURNAROUND The jury returned the unanimous verdict three hours after first notifying Judge Becker it was deadlocked on the murder charge. The judge promptly ordered the jury to continue its deliberations and strive to reach a unanimous verdict. Jurors had notified Becker in writing of the deadlock on the murder charge shortly before noon Wednesday. They also told her that they had reached unanimous verdicts on the other 14 counts. The jurors’ note on Wednesday stated: “Judge Becker: We, the jurors, have made decisions on counts 2-15 but are deadlocked on count one. We have taken three votes with the results not being unanimous. Shall we continue to review the evidence or stop where we are?” “The answer is, ‘Yes, continue to deliberate,’” announced the judge. The jury had been deliberating since about 3 p.m. Monday after more than four hours of closing arguments. For two nights they deliberated until 9 o’clock — a total of nearly 20 hours. After the jury was dismissed, juror Willie Hayes, 64, of Albany — the only man on the jury — entered the courtroom to pay his respects to Brown’s still-tearful family. “Deep in my heart, I know he’s guilty,” Hayes said. But, he acknowledged, two of the jurors initially had a difficult time voting to convict the former sheriff of murder. But, he said, after Judge Becker issued her order to keep working, the two other jurors “eventually came around.” Hayes said that the more testimony he heard against Dorsey during the trial, the more he became convinced the former sheriff was guilty, although he insisted that he didn’t believe everything that star witness Patrick Cuffy said. “In some ways I did, in some ways I didn’t,” Hayes said. But Hayes said he came to believe that Cuffy “had too much power in the sheriff’s department.” That, he said, factored into his assessment of his credibility. Cuffy was the only prosecution witness to name Dorsey definitively as the instigator of the plot to gun down Brown after Dorsey’s loss in the 2000 runoff. Paul Skyers, a close friend and confidant of Cuffy’s who also worked for Brown, also was granted immunity for his confessed role as the getaway driver the night Brown was killed. But Hayes said the jury acquitted Dorsey of bribery charges because they were based solely on the testimony of Shirley McMichael, a bail bondswoman who owns Speedy Bonding Co. in DeKalb. McMichael had testified that Dorsey extorted sex and thousands of dollars in cash from her during his two-year term in return for allowing her to do business at the county jail. But she also grudgingly acknowledged that she had sex with the sheriff dozens of times in motels and at her home, that the two exchanged expensive gifts, and that she had introduced him to her mother and her children. “I didn’t believe a word of her,” Hayes said. Dougherty County District Attorney Kenneth B. Hodges III, who Morgan enlisted as co-counsel, said Dougherty County jurors during his term have consistently convicted people charged with serious offenses. The evidence against Dorsey, he said, “was overwhelming, and it was certainly uncontradicted.” A TRIAL RUN IN AUGUSTA Morgan said that county prosecutors were confident the jury would find Dorsey guilty of racketeering and the corruption charges. A month ago, he said, prosecutors hired a private consulting firm that selected two juries in Augusta for a mock trial. County prosecutors argued their case and then watched as each jury deliberated. Morgan said that both juries quickly found Dorsey guilty of corruption. But, he said, while one jury convicted the former sheriff of murder, the second jury acquitted him. The women on both of those shadow juries, he said, were particularly outraged that the sheriff would commandeer deputies to chauffeur and baby-sit his children. Two hours after the verdict, a still-emotional jury forewoman, who asked not to be identified, took a personal thank-you call from Phyllis Brown. “We did what we had to do, Mrs. Brown,” she said. “I know no words can say … ,” her voice broke, “no words can express to you how we can feel. … I hope Derwin can rest now. I hope he can rest.” The forewoman said that two women remained holdouts until after Becker ordered the jury to continue its deliberations. One woman, she said, was undecided “but felt like Sidney Dorsey was guilty.” That juror, she said, was troubled by Cuffy’s immunity deals and the acquittals of Walker and Ramsey. “It just kept haunting her that Patrick Cuffy and Paul Skyers got immunity. “We had to show her she could not use that, that they were not on trial,” the forewoman said. A second woman, she said, had voted not to convict the former sheriff. “She felt like he was guilty, but guilty with an explanation,” she said. That woman became the lone holdout. Finally, “We left her alone and didn’t bother her anymore,” the forewoman said. “She said a prayer.” And then her doubts and questions began spilling out. The forewoman said she asked her, “What do you feel in your heart?” “He’s guilty,” the single holdout answered. “That’s what we’re looking for,” the forewoman answered. THE FINAL JURY VOTE She said the jury then unanimously voted, “guilty.” She then called for a final vote, asking each juror if they were certain of their vote. “All 12 of us raised our hand,” she said. “And we said, ‘Thank you, Jesus.’” The defense decision not to present any witnesses, she said, surprised jurors “because they said they had so much to show.” Jurors especially were waiting to hear from a 10-year-old witness to Brown’s murder that Steel had promised during his opening statement would identify Skyers as the shooter and place only Skyers and Cuffy at the murder scene. But, the forewoman said, “We were also hoping Mr. Dorsey would have something to say. I wanted him to say, or at least make an attempt to say, he had no part in this,” she said. She said if she had been falsely accused of a crime, she would have told everyone, “No, I did not do this.” “If Sidney Dorsey had gotten up and spoken on his own behalf, we would probably still be there,” she said of the room where the jury deliberated.

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