The final life sentences were handed down Wednesday in the 2016 beating and burning death of an 83-year-old woman at her Georgia home.
Justin Grady, 40, and Cortavious Heard, 20, were denied the possibility of parole for their role in the brutal murder of Dorothy “Dot” Dow, a grandmother whose family operated a blueberry farm in north Meriwether County. Grady and Heard were former seasonal employees at the farm, which is about 50 miles southwest of Atlanta.
The two men, along with 20-year-old Mina Ellery and 19-year-old Angel Harmon, broke into Dow’s home on Aug. 4, 2016, with the intention of finding her son’s money stash, according to prosecutors. When he wasn’t there, the four tried to get information out of Dow.
She couldn’t answer their questions, and she was beaten. Both her arms were broken, and her face was cut and bruised.
Before they left, prosecutors said the crew poured lighter fluid down Dow’s back and set her on fire. They disabled the home’s telephone, and Ellery admitted to grabbing Dow’s medical alert device from around her neck, AJC.com previously reported.
Still, Dow crawled to a cellphone to call for help. She used water from a sleep apnea machine to put out the flames. Dow died more than 20 days later at Grady Memorial Hospital.
Grady and Heard pleaded guilty to Dow’s murder, home invasion, armed robbery and aggravated battery in December 2017. Coweta Judicial Circuit District Attorney Herb Cranford told AJC.com they agreed to testify against Harmon. Ellery had already pleaded guilty to murder and was sentenced in September 2018 to life in prison with a minimum of 30 years to serve.
Instead of standing trial, Harmon pleaded guilty Tuesday to murder, home invasion and aggravated assault and was sentenced to life with a minimum of 20 years to serve. She agreed to the plea but maintained her innocence, records show.
Cranford said Grady agreed to the life without parole sentence, and Heard’s plea was not negotiated.
“With a heavy heart for the Dow family, the District Attorney’s Office is thankful that justice has been served for the four defendants responsible for the heinous murder of Dorothy Dow,” Cranford said in a statement. “Words do not adequately describe what Mrs. Dow experienced and what her family has gone through. The District Attorney’s Office hopes that closing this criminal case with life sentences for all four defendants will give the family some solace.”
A fifth person was charged in a related burglary at the Dow home two days before the attack. Sanquavious Cameron pleaded guilty to burglary and was sentenced to 15 years, with seven to serve in prison and the remainder on probation.
In other news:
Support real journalism. Support local journalism. Subscribe to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution today. See offers.
Your subscription to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution funds in-depth reporting and investigations that keep you informed. Thank you for supporting real journalism.