LAWRENCEVILLE - A Riverdale man once decried by Tedla Lemma's family as a coward and a devil was convicted of killing the disabled man Thursday.
After nearly two days of deliberations, a jury convicted Quincy Jackson, 27, of helping organize and lead a band of home-invaders who terrorized two Gwinnett families in three robberies leading up to Lemma's death.
Superior Court Judge Timothy Hamil sentenced Jackson to life plus 30 years. Jurors found him guilty of all 17 counts, crimes that included murder, felony murder, kidnapping and armed robbery.
Jackson's attorney, Matt Crosby, said his client plans to appeal the verdict.
Jackson's antics turned deadly last year when his crew broke into Lemma's upscale Lilburn home and gagged him so tightly with an adult diaper he suffocated. They had scored $54,000 in a robbery at the same home a few months prior - money Lemma and his brother had been saving for nearly a decade.
The brothers, who shared the Lilburn home, had fled their native Ethiopia to build a small fortune in America, tirelessly working at metro Atlanta convenience stores and pipe-lining money back home. The left side of Lemma's body was rendered useless when a robber shot him in the head while he was working as a clerk several years ago.
Jackson is the first of five suspects to be tried in connection with Lemma's killing and earlier robberies. Here's a breakdown of the remaining suspects:
· Lorna Araya, a key witness in Jackson's murder trial, is accused of masterminding the home invasions against members of the Ethiopian community she grew up in. Prosecutors have agreed to not seek a life sentence for Araya in exchange for her testimony. She'd known the Lemma brothers since girlhood.
· Marshae Brooks, Jackson's roommate in Riverdale, is awaiting trial on murder charges.
· Demarcus "Money Marc" Crawford was denied bond on murder charges earlier this month. His indictment is pending.
· Ramon Ferguson faces armed robbery charges stemming from the second incident, a Dec. 26, 2007, robbery and kidnapping in Stone Mountain. He's currently incarcerated in Fulton County, records show.
Gerald Rhines, Araya's boyfriend, is not charged. Defense attorneys argued he led the robbery and kidnapping in Stone Mountain.