Man sentenced to life without parole for murder of two Rome women

Monday, November 27, 2023–8:00 p.m.

-John Bailey, 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.

Desmond Brown

Desmond Lavonta Brown was sentenced to life without parole Monday for the murder of two Rome sisters in 2020. 

A Cherokee County, Alabama, jury found Brown guilty of capital murder on Nov. 21 and on Monday began the sentencing phase where jurors heard additional testimony before recommending a sentence — which carried the potential of the death penalty.

Brown, alongside two co-defendants, was accused of  killing Armuchee High student Vanita Richardson and her sister Truvenia Campbell in Alabama on his birthday and then disposing of their bodies by throwing them off the loop near Grizzard Park in Rome.

The three men were originally charged with murder in Floyd County, until evidence showed that the killings took place in Alabama. They still face charges in Floyd County, and an assistant district attorney with the Floyd County DA’s Office, Emily Johnson, has been assisting with the Alabama case.

There is still a remaining capital case against his co-defendant Devon Watts and that trial is expected to begin in the spring of 2024. A third co-defendant, Christopher Pullen, faces a felony murder charge in the case, but that accusation does not carry the option to impose a death sentence.

Testimony in the case began on Nov. 13 and lasted through the following Tuesday. During that trial, Pullen said he witnessed Brown shoot Campbell three times. The incident began at Brown’s birthday party on May 12, 2020, at his mother’s house in Rome.

Brown couldn’t find his wallet and suspected that one of the sisters stole it. He, Watts and Pullen took the sisters on a ride that led them into Cherokee County, Alabama.

It was then, Pullen testified, that Brown confronted the older sister, Campbell, and shot her three times when she refused to give him her purse. The younger sister, Richardson, handed over her purse willingly but was also shot and killed. Pullen testified that he didn’t see who shot her.

Georgia Bureau of Investigation Special Agent Ghee Wilson testified that the men then traveled back to Georgia where they drove around and sold some synthetic marijuana before placing bags over the sisters’ heads and dumping their bodies off the bridge.

They then went to Atlanta, where they met with associates and burned Richardson’s gold 1997 Toyota Corolla, Wilson said. All three men returned to Rome where they were arrested on other charges before being charged with murder.

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