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Conviction upheld in 2008 murder of Ethiopian businessman

ATLANTA — The Supreme Court of Georgia upheld Monday the life sentence of Quincy Marcel Jackson, convicted in 2009 of killing a disabled Gwinnett County man in an armed robbery at his upscale Lilburn home.

A Gwinnett judge sentenced Jackson to life plus 30 years after jurors found him guilty on 17 separate charges — including murder, felony murder, kidnapping and armed robbery — in 2009. The court found Jackson guilty of leading a band of home-invaders who terrorized two families in three robberies leading up to the death of Ethiopian business man Tedla Lemma.

A year earlier, Jackson’s crew had broken into Lemma’s home and gagged him so tightly with an adult diaper he suffocated. A few months prior, they had made out with $54,000 in another robbery at Lemma’s home. It was money he and his brother had been saving for nearly a decade from their work at metro Atlanta convenience stores.

The left side of Lemma’s body had been rendered useless when a robber shot him in the head while he was working as a clerk several years before he was murdered.

The Georgia Supreme Court upheld Jackson’s conviction and sentence with the cases of several of his alleged co-conspirators still up in the air.

Online court records show Marshae Brooks entered a guilty plea and was sentenced to 23 years confinement in July, but attorney Hillary Krepistman said Monday that he had withdrawn his plea and was scheduled to go to trial in November. Krepistman represents Demarcus Crawford in the case, who she said has entered a not guilty plea and is awaiting trial.

Both men were allegedly members of Jackson’s crew when Lemma was killed.

Lorna Araya is accused of masterminding the group’s home invasions against members of the Ethiopian community she grew up in, including the Lemma brothers she knew since childhood. A key witness in Jackson’s original trial, prosecutors agreed in 2009 to not seek a life sentence for Araya in exchange for her testimony.

Court records show she has not yet been sentenced, but Krepistman said Araya had “either entered or is entering” a guilty plea.

In an unrelated case, the state Supreme Court also upheld Monday the murder conviction and life sentence of Sanyo Jerome Elvie. Elvie fatally stabbed his wife’s cousin in June 2004, attempting to flee to Miami on a Greyhound bus before being nabbed in Valdosta.

The court also denied Monday the appeal of former Gwinnett resident Bradley Nelson Stephens, sentenced to 20 years in prison for having sex with his stepdaughter from the time she was 9 and forcing her to get an abortion after he impregnated her at age 16.

Stephens’ defense claimed that probation conditions not allowing him to have contact with his own children — which were added after his formal sentencing in Gwinnett — were impermissible.