Tuesday, November 21, 2023–5:45 p.m.
-Adam Carey, Rome News-Tribune-
This story is possible because of a news-sharing agreement with the Rome News-Tribune. More information can be found at northwestgeorgianews.com.
The jury returned a guilty verdict Tuesday afternoon in the capital murder case against Desmond Brown for the killing of two Rome sisters in 2020.
Brown faces the death penalty on capital murder charges for the killing of Truvenia Campbell and Vanita Richardson. His co-defendant Devon Watts is also facing a capital murder charge.
The jury only took a short time to deliberate before returning the verdict. The trial will now move into the sentencing phase where jurors will listen to additional testimony before imposing a sentence.
Brown took the stand Monday afternoon and admitted to helping cover up the May 2020 murders, a stark contrast to the testimony of Christopher Leedarius Pullen last week. Pullen, who will be tried at a later date on a felony murder charge, testified that he saw Brown shoot and kill Truvenia Campbell.
However, he said he left one of his cellphones in his room playing music for his guests and did not have it with him for the rest of the night.
The cell phone is a key piece of evidence. The location data for Brown’s and Watts’ phones, as well as the phones of the victims, have been an integral part of the prosecution’s case. When asked why he left that phone, Brown shrugged off the question.
“I’m a drug dealer, I have lots of phones,” Brown said. “It helps me stay out of trouble.”
He stayed at his girlfriend’s apartment until around 2 a.m. when Pullen showed up and asked to borrow Brown’s car to go to the store.
He testified that he did not see either of his co-defendants until later in the morning when they returned with his car, and a second car.
The two men had brought back Vanita Richardson’s gold 1997 Toyota Corolla. Telling the jury that Watts said they were going to sell the car in Atlanta, Brown said he began to grow suspicious.
However, he said he didn’t connect the Corolla to the sisters at that time. They took his car and the Corolla to Atlanta, picking up a gas can and gasoline along the way.
Ultimately, they burned the car, leaving it in a field, and Brown testified he asked Watts what was really going on.
On the way back to Rome, Brown testified that Watts said he accidentally shot the older sister while trying to recover the wallet and that Pullen then shot her in the head and killed her. Brown testified that Watts told him Pullen then shot and killed the younger sister.
According to Brown’s testimony, Watts and Pullen then drove to a bridge by Grizzard Park on the loop, stopped the car on the bridge, placed plastic bags over the victims’ heads and threw them off the bridge. He testified that he wasn’t there.
The sisters’ bodies were discovered a few hours later by GDOT workers doing an inspection on the bridge.