Jury convicts man in 2008 murder

A Clayton County jury convicted a Forest Park man, Tuesday afternoon, of murder, following deliberations over two days.

Testimony in the trial of Antonio Montrez Hamm, 25, started last week and continued until Monday afternoon when the case went to the jury. Clayton District Attorney Tracy Graham Lawson said Hamm was sentenced to life plus five years in the 2008 shooting death of J. Remedios Mendieta-Ruiz.

Hamm's brother, Raymond Deangelo Hamm, 23, was charged with threatening a witness in the case. However, Superior Court Judge Al Collier issued a directed verdict of not guilty against him, so the jury did not deliberate his charge, said Lawson.

Police said Antonio Hamm's former girlfriend, Brittany Lashunda O'Kelly, witnessed Mendieta-Ruiz's shooting. Antonio Hamm was charged two months later with shooting O'Kelly in the head, after she and the brothers moved to West Point, Ga.

Clayton County Police Detective Tom Martin testified last week that O'Kelly survived the shooting, but suffered brain damage. Martin also disputed the defense theory that O'Kelly was involved in Mendieta-Ruiz's shooting.

"There are no warrants for Brittany O'Kelly because there is no evidence she committed a crime related to this," testified Martin, Thursday. "There is no evidence on Brittany O'Kelly."

Defense attorneys, Bernadette Clark Wright and Derek M. Wright, theorized that O'Kelly used the lure of prostitution to get Mendieta-Ruiz to the complex to be robbed.

O'Kelly allegedly told police that Antonio Hamm wanted her to get money from somewhere, so he could buy marijuana. Witnesses told police they saw Mendieta-Ruiz drive into the gated complex about 3:30 p.m., Dec. 14, 2008, accompanied by a female. The victim followed the female into a breezeway and witnesses heard a gunshot.

Other witnesses told police they saw a suspicious male hanging around the apartment building before the shooting. Another witness told police of overhearing Antonio Hamm tell O'Kelly to "Get the Mexican and meet me in the cut," according to court documents.

Clayton County court records show that Antonio Hamm's local criminal history dates back to 2003, when he was about 17. Charges include fighting at school and bringing weapons to school.