Man gets life in prison for killing 2 women found dumped off Rome bridge

Vanita Richardson (left) and Truvenia Campbell were found dead in Rome in March 2020.

Credit: Channel 2 Action News

Credit: Channel 2 Action News

Vanita Richardson (left) and Truvenia Campbell were found dead in Rome in March 2020.

Desmond Lavonta Brown believed that one of two women attending his birthday party had stolen his wallet, according to northwest Georgia authorities. That’s when investigators say he and two others took the women across the state line into Alabama and killed them.

A Georgia Department of Transportation crew discovered the bodies of Vanita Nicole Richardson, 18, and her close friend, 31-year-old Truvenia Clarece Campbell, underneath an overpass on the banks of the Etowah River in Rome on May 13, 2020, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution previously reported. Both women had bags tied over their heads when they were found, a police report indicated.

The deaths shocked the Rome community, and the GBI was called to assist in the investigation. Days after the bodies were found, the GBI arrested Brown and Devin Lashawn Watts and charged both with murder. A third murder suspect, Christopher Leedarius Pullen, was arrested weeks later.

“My world is gone. That’s my only daughter,” Richardson’s mother, Vanita Allen, told Channel 2 Action News after her death. “Vanita was an angel.”

When investigators determined the women had been killed in Alabama, Brown’s case was transferred to the Cherokee County District Attorney’s Office there. Last month, Brown was convicted of capital murder and sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole. The jury deliberated for less than an hour.

“Collaboration was key to bringing justice in this case,” the GBI said in a social media post.

The murder cases remain open against Watts and Pullen, the Rome News-Tribune reported.

Desmond Lavonta Brown was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole.

Credit: Floyd County Sheriff's Office

icon to expand image

Credit: Floyd County Sheriff's Office

The Alabama law regarding punishment in a murder case was amended in 2018, according to District Attorney Summer Summerford. No longer can a judge override a jury if they return a decision for life without parole.

“The families of the victims have been diligent during this process,” Summerford said in a news release. “They loved Vanita and Truvenia and are committed to seeing the process through. Many people do not realize how difficult this process is on families who have lost their loved ones in a brutal and horrific way. Our prayers continue for them through this holiday season.”

The nearly month-long trial included 33 witnesses, Summerford said. Brown took the stand in his own defense.

“I also want to say a special ‘thank you’ to the jurors who gave up the better part of a month of their lives to act as the community’s representatives,” Summerford said. “Their attention during the whole process was extraordinary. Listening and seeing the evidence in this case was not an easy thing to do.”

About the Author