CHEROKEE COUNTY, Ala. - One of the three people arrested in connection to two sisters found dead under a bridge in Rome has been sentenced to life in prison.
Desmond Lavonta Brown was convicted of capital murder by a jury in Cherokee County, Alabama on November 21.
It took jurors less than an hour to find Brown guilty of killing 19-year-old Vanita Richardson and 30-year-old Clarice Truvenia Campbell.
The murder trial of Desmond Lavonta Brown
It was revealed during the trial that Brown believed the sisters had stolen his wallet during a birthday party. He and two other men eventually took them for a ride and shot them while attempting to search for the wallet.
That wallet would later be found behind Brown’s television set at his home.
The three men would then dispose of their bodies by covering the heads with plastic bags and dropping them from a Rome-area bridge.
Their bodies would be discovered the next morning, May 13, 2020, by a Georgia Department of Transportation crew on a bank under the East Rome Bypass bridge near the bank of the Etowah River near Grizzard Park.
Three charged in the murders of Vanita Richardson and Truvenia Campbell
Brown, Devin Lashawn Watts, and Christopher Leedarius Pullen were later arrested for their roles. Investigators say eyewitness statements, cell phone data, and forensic analysis, led to the arrests.
Brown, 28, was initially charged in Floyd County with two counts of malice murder, two counts of felony murder, two counts of aggravated battery, two counts of aggravated assault, possession of a firearm during the commission of a crime, possession of a firearm by first offender probationer, theft by taking, three counts of tampering with evidence, false statements and writings, and two counts of abandonment of a dead body.
His case was later be moved across state lines when investigators determined the sisters were killed in Alabama.
"This case was made possible by cooperation between multiple agencies. Many thanks to the many individuals who played a part in this investigation and prosecution. Also, a special thanks to GBI Special Agent Ghee Wilson and the Floyd County District Attorney’s Office. The families of the victims have been diligent during this process. They loved Vanita and Truvenia and are committed to seeing the process through. Many people do not realize how difficult this process is on families who have lost their loved ones in a brutal and horrific way. Our prayers continue for them through this holiday season," said Cheroke County District Attorney Summer Summerford.
Thirty-three witnesses and 130 pieces of evidence were introduced during the seven-day trial. Brown was sentenced to life without the possibility of parole on November 27.
"I also want to say a special ‘thank you’ to the jurors who gave up the better part of a month of their lives to act as the community’s representatives. Their attention during the whole process was extraordinary. Listening and seeing the evidence in this case was not an easy thing to do," Summerford added.
What is the status of Devin Lashawn Watts and Christopher Leedarius Pullen
It was not immediately clear when Devin Lashawn Watts and Christopher Leedarius Pullen would have their days in court.
Devin Lashawn Watts (Cherokee County Sheriff's Office)
Watts, 40, was charged in Georgia with two counts of malice murder, two counts of felony murder, two counts of aggravated battery, two counts of aggravated assault, possession of a firearm during the commission of a crime, possession of a firearm by a convicted felon, theft by taking, three counts of tampering with evidence, false statements and writings, and two counts of abandonment of a dead body.
Christopher Leedarius Pullen (Cherokee County Sheriff's Office)
Pullen, 26, was charged in Floyd County with two counts of felony murder, two counts of aggravated battery, two counts of aggravated assault, two counts of abandonment of a dead body, three counts of tampering with evidence, theft by taking, false statements and writings.
A court date for both men in Georgia has not been set.
Both men are being held in the Cherokee County Jail on capital murder and murder charges respectively since October 2021, but a court date has also not been set in Alabama.