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Grand jury probe ordered in killing of new sheriff

Derwin Brown
Brown's murder is being called an assassination  

ATLANTA, Georgia (CNN) -- DeKalb County judges Wednesday have authorized a grand jury investigation into the ambush killing of Sheriff-elect Derwin Brown outside his home three days before his scheduled swearing-in.

The judges also empowered a second grand jury to investigate alleged corruption in the sheriff's department, including allegations of wrongdoing by former Sheriff Sidney Dorsey and his wife, Atlanta City Councilwoman Sherry Dorsey, department employees, bail bondsmen and other outside contractors.

District Attorney J. Tom Morgan officially requested an independent grand jury investigation Monday. The 10-judge circuit court panel agreed to Morgan's request, but it ordered two separate but simultaneous grand jury probes -- one to investigate the murder, the other to look into the charges of corruption.

Having two grand juries will cost county taxpayers more money, but sources said the judges felt two separate panels would be more focused and could do a more thorough job.

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CNN interviews Phyllis Brown, the wife of slain DeKalb County, Georgia sheriff-elect

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"I was asking for one grand jury, but I had planned to break it into two working committees," Morgan told CNN.

Morgan said he is anxious to get moving on the investigations.

The district attorney said he waited until Dorsey left office this month to request a grand jury investigation because of Georgia's unique rule allowing elected public officials under investigation to be in the grand jury room when witnesses testify.

Morgan told CNN this provision of the law has had a chilling effect on possible whistleblowers coming forward to tell what they know in a department with a long history of scandal and corruption.

Brown, 46, was shot down outside his home after a party to celebrate his completion of a sheriff's training course following his election upset victory over Dorsey. He campaigned on a platform promising to clean up alleged corruption in the department, identifying dozens of employees he planned to fire and pledging to authorize an outside audit of its $50 million budget.

Law enforcement officials are calling the killing an assassination. Brown was hit 11 times in a fusillade of gunfire from a gunman using a 9 mm semiautomatic pistol. He died just feet from the front door of his home while his wife, Phyllis and several children and friends were inside waiting.

Authorities call murder of Georgia sheriff-elect a 'professional hit'
December 21, 2000
Sheriff-elect shot dead in front of Atlanta home
December 16, 2000

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