0

Man convicted in Clayton double murder

By Michael Davis

mdavis@news-daily.com

A Clayton County judge, on Friday, sentenced a man, convicted of killing his ex-wife and a man she'd been dating, to life in prison without parole in their 2006 deaths.

Lonnie Dawson, 46, was found guilty by a jury Friday morning of killing Lisa Dawson, 48, and Kenneth Sands, 40, in March 2006. The pair was found in Lisa Dawson's Briar Ridge Lane home near Jonesboro.

Clayton County Superior Court Judge Albert B. Collier sentenced Lonnie Dawson to life in prison without parole on each of two counts of malice murder, 20 years on a burglary charge and five years each on two charges of possession of a weapon during the commission of a crime.

Prosecutors said Lisa Dawson and Sands had been stabbed or cut a total of more than 150 times. During the trial this week, Clayton County District Attorney Tracy Graham Lawson showed the jury a series of autopsy photos of the victims. She later called them the "worst pictures I've seen in my life."

She said Friday she didn't believe Lonnie Dawson showed any remorse until after he was convicted. "Sometimes, a person does something so wrong, so bad, that they should never be among the free again, and Lonnie Dawson is one of those men," Lawson said after the sentencing.

Prosecutors said DNA evidence linked Lonnie Dawson to the crime scene. A forensic biologist and DNA expert testified that DNA found in blood on his jeans matched that of both victims. Jessica Walker, who was working at a Georgia Bureau of Investigation lab at the time, also testified that she could not rule out the possibility that blood found staining Lisa Dawson's back door contained DNA from both victims and Lonnie Dawson.

Lonnie Dawson's sisters testified during the trial that Dawson went to one sister's home on the day of the killings. He was later reportedly taken to Southern Regional Medical Center for treatment of a cut to his hand, but not before a number of family members gathered at the home along with a family pastor.

"When I walked through the door, I saw my two sisters and Lonnie," said Rhonda Friend, a sister who is two years younger than Lonnie Dawson. "Upon seeing them, Lonnie was in a distraught -- he was very distraught."

Several family members made emotional pleas Friday for Lonnie Dawson to be given the chance to, one day, be free from prison. His attorney, Kenneth Ellis, said he is remorseful.

"He's been a family person ... he's established within the church. He shows evidence of having a conscience," Ellis said. "I don't think my client's life shows he's past the point of being salvaged ... that he's past the point of being redeemed."

Before handing down his sentence, Collier called the acts involved in the crime some of the most horrendous he's seen. "Mr. Dawson, God have mercy on your soul. You are remanded to the custody of the sheriff," he said.