Jury convicts 2 men of murder outside Marietta restaurant

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A Cobb County jury has convicted two men of murder in the shooting death of a 48-year-old father and husband. Anthony Welch was shot outside a Cobb County restaurant two and a half years ago. After a week of testimony, the jury began deliberations on Wednesday evening and delivered a verdict Thursday morning on murder, armed robbery, and other charges.

“I’m just feeling blessed and ecstatic, really because justice has been served. What they did was senseless, evil and it should not have happened,” Cynthia Welch told FOX 5 News.

Prosecutor said Demarious Green and Dylan Ledbetter were armed when they robbed Anthony and Cynthia Welch in the parking lot of the Pappadeaux Restaurant on Windy Hill Road October 7, 2016. Cythnia said she vividly remembers how the men turned to a night of fun into a nightmare.

“We had just finished my birthday dinner. I kissed him and told him I loved him and he told me he loved me and we were holding hands on the way back to the car. The next thing I know, it happened. He was shot and I was shot,” the widow said with loved ones and prosecutors at her side following the verdict.

The men snatched jewelry from Cynthia as she laid in the parking lot next to her dying husband. Four days after the shooting, two men armed with a handgun robbed a man of a chain necklace and other items in the parking lot at the Outlet Shoppes at Atlanta, in Woodstock. Due to similarities, Woodstock Police and Cobb Police investigators believed the two cases could be related. This robbery occurred in the daytime, allowing better images of the attackers and their vehicle, and investigators issued a BOLO for the vehicle, which had Florida tags.

RELATED: Two charged in fatal shooting outside Pappadeaux restaurant

On Oct. 15, 2016, the vehicle from the Cherokee case was spotted at the Red Roof Inn motel in Marietta, about a half mile from the Pappadeaux restaurant. Officers confirmed the tag matched the BOLO, and when the vehicle left the motel, uniform Cobb Police officers initiated a traffic stop. Ledbetter was driving, with Greene in the front passenger seat and a third man sitting in the back. Ledbetter pulled into a Shell station as if to stop, but as officers approached he put the car in gear and attempted to flee. That’s when his vehicle struck a Cobb Police officer, hit another car and then jumped a curb, causing its airbags to deploy. Greene jumped out and ran to the nearby Masters Inn motel. Ledbetter also ran – straight toward a plainclothes officer who fired his weapon, striking Ledbetter three times. The third man remained in the vehicle with his hands up. A K-9 officer searched the trail from the car to the Masters Inn and recovered the chain belonging to the Woodstock victim. A search warrant executed on the vehicle yielded a .380 Kel-Tec pistol – reported stolen earlier that month in Broward County, Florida – that GBI ballistics experts later matched to the bullets removed from Anthony and Cynthia Welch. Other evidence, including security videos, cell tower records, and geolocation analysis, corroborated both defendants’ presence at the scenes of the crimes.

Sentencing for Green and Ledbetter was scheduled for May 30. Welch and other loved ones are expected to deliver powerful victim impact statements.

RELATED: Woman pleads for help after husband shot, killed outside Pappadeaux