Man, 32, convicted of beating, strangling wife to death

A Cobb County man was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole Friday for beating and strangling his wife to death, the Cobb County District Attorney said.

Derrick McLaurence Williams, 32, was convicted of malice murder, felony murder and two counts of aggravated assault in the Dec. 5, 2012, death of Finesse Dawson, 33. After beating and choking Dawson at the couple's Smyrna home on Old Spring Road, Williams fled the state. He was captured by U.S. Marshals on a Greyhound bus in Reno, Nev., one week later.

After beating and strangling Dawson to death, Williams then cleaned up the woman's body and wrapped her in bedding to hide the crime, police said in two arrest warrants previously obtained by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Williams then told family and friends the 33-year-old woman overdosed, arrest warrants state.

"During a physical altercation, the accused choked the victim to death and beat her, leaving massive bruising to her head, hands, arms, back and buttocks," the arrest warrant states. "The accused told friends and police the victim died from an overdose. Autopsy revealed she had been strangled."

Williams is a convicted felon who spent seven months in prison in 2011 on weapon and drug charges, according to the Georgia Department of Corrections. At the time of the killing, Williams was on probation for domestic violence acts against his wife, according to DA Vic Reynolds.

Prosecutors said Dawson endured years of abuse at the hands of her husband. She had a tattoo on her leg that read "Love Hurts......Derrick," Reynolds' office said in an emailed statement Friday.

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"This was sustained cruelty," Deputy Chief ADA Michael Scott Carlson said in his final argument. "Derrick Williams is just a man who will not take responsibility for his action.....He's a one-man war on women."

Williams offered an apology to Dawson's family and said he wished he "could take it all back" during the sentencing phase of the trial, the DA's office said.

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