Guilty verdicts in Thomasville arson trial -, South Georgia News, Weather, Sports

Guilty verdicts in Thomasville arson trial

March 8, 2006

Thomasville -- Dexter Harrison and Marty Harrell were convicted of setting fire to the Ramada Limited Motel in Donalsonville to collect insurance money. It took jurors just less than 15 hours to reach their guilty verdict.

After nearly two weeks of testimony, jurors found Cairo businessman Dexter Harrison guilt of conspiracy to commit arson and mail fraud, arson, mail fraud, and misleading statements.

"There's probably a 99% chance there will be an appeal. There was some rulings made by the trial court that are appealable," said Defense Attorney Phil Cannon.

Marty Harrell, guilty of conspiracy to commit arson and mail fraud, arson, witness tampering and misleading statements. He was found not guilty of two counts of witness tampering and mail fraud. "Which means to me, the jury says 'Although Marty may have participated in the arson he did not agree or conspire with Dexter Harrison to defraud the insurance company,'" said Cannon.

And the jury found Don Harrell not guilty of intimidating his daughter in law, Julie Harrell. "We were pleased with the verdict against Don and we feel it was the right outcome based on the facts and the law," Cannon said.

Dexter Harrison spoke to more than two dozen friends and family in the courtroom before being taken into custody. He thanked them for their support. Family members sobbed as he was led away.

Attorneys for Harrison have 30 days to ask for an appeal, and say they will, but another case is pending. "The government has indicated that it intends to conduct a jury trial on the remain counts of this indictment that have been severed out, meaning there will be two or tree trials," said Cannon.

Those counts only affect Don and Marty Harrell, and a date for that trial has yet to be scheduled.

Marty Harrell, Don Harrell, and Dexter Harrison are all being held in the Thomas County Jail. Judge Hugh Lawson is expected to rule Friday on the defense request to release Don Harrell on bond pending a future hearing for more charges related to this case.

Prosecutors were pleased with the jury's verdict. While U. S. Attorneys wouldn't speak on camera, they did release a statement on the charges and future sentencing.

The sentencing will take place within the next two months. Dexter Harrison could face a possible total of 75 years imprisonment. Martin Harrell is facing a possible 65 years.

 The government also announced plan to proceed with additional counts against Martin and Don Harrell.

Those charges include Hobbs Act Violations which have to do with a missing person and Interstate Travel in Aid of Racketeering.


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