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Dorsey gets life sentence

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August 15, 2002
The A. P.

Former DeKalb County Sheriff Sidney Dorsey was sentenced to life in prison for murdering his successor, and another 23 years for corruption.

Dorsey was convicted in Albany last month on charges of ordering the murder of Derwin Brown, who was fatally shot December 15th, 2000, three days before he was to take office after beating Dorsey in a bitter runoff election. Dorsey also was found guilty of eleven of 14 charges of widespread corruption in the sheriff's department.

Dorsey took the stand at the sentencing hearing and told Superior Court Judge Cynthia Becker that he was innocent of plotting to assassinate his successor. "I know you're going to sentence me severely, but I do not have the blood of Derwin Brown on my hands. I'm going to be in prison on the outside, but I'll be free on the inside because I do not have the blood of the sheriff-elect on my hands."

Five members of Brown's family-- his mother, daughter, son, brother and wife-- also testified at the hearing. His mother, Burkena Brown, told the court, "There is a hole where my heart used to be."

Prosecutors charged that Dorsey recruited men to kill Brown, 46, so he could retake the sheriff's post in a special election. With rumors swirling that he was involved in Brown's killing, Dorsey eventually decided not to run.

The murder case was based chiefly on the testimony of two men, Patrick Cuffy and Paul Skyers, who said they helped carry out the slaying. Both men struck immunity deals with prosecutors.

Two other men, Melvin Walker and David Ramsey, were acquitted of murder charges in a separate trial.