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3 convicted of murder in 2019 shooting of Georgia deputy

July 1, 2021 GMT

GAINESVILLE, Ga. (AP) — Three men have been convicted of murder in death of a northeast Georgia sheriff’s deputy who was killed during a shootout.

A Hall County jury on Thursday returned guilty verdicts against Hector Garcia-Solis, Eric Velazquez and London Clements, news outlets reported.

Garcia-Solis and his cousin Velazquez were found guilty of malice murder in the fatal 2019 shooting of Hall County Sheriff’s Deputy Blane Dixon. Clements was found guilty of the less serious charge of felony murder.

The three were also found guilty in a series of burglaries and car thefts in the days leading up to the car chase and a shootout with police in a Gainesville neighborhood on July 7, 2019.

Garcia-Solis admitted on the stand that he fired the shots that killed Dixon, saying Tuesday in testimony that “It was me,” under questioning by his own lawyer. His lawyers later argued that the state had failed to prove Garcia-Solis was seeking to kill anyone, and thus the man wasn’t guilty of malice murder.

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Jurors rejected that argument, though, following four hours of deliberations that ended about noon on Thursday.

The three men will be sentenced on July 8.

Dixon’s family embraced as defendants were escorted out. District Attorney Lee Darragh said the prosecution was “very grateful” for the jury’s verdict.

“Justice has been done in their verdict for Blane Dixon,” he said.

All three defendants were 17 at the time of the shooting and thus are not eligible for the death penalty. Darragh said the maximum penalty for each defendant will be life without the chance of parole.

A fourth defendant, Brayan Cruz, was not tried alongside the other three. He testified against the other defendants last week. Darragh didn’t say how prosecutors would handle charges against Cruz.