STATESBORO, GA—Antonio Lamont Murray, 38, from Pembroke, Georgia, was convicted yesterday by a federal jury after a three-day trial for his role in two separate kidnappings that occurred in the Bryan County area. The trial was held before Senior U.S. District Court Judge B. Avant Edenfield.
United States Attorney Edward J. Tarver stated, “The kidnappings committed by this defendant and others were violent and brazen acts. Because of timely action by the FBI and its partners in the law enforcement community, the United States Attorney’s Office was able to prosecute those responsible for these outrageous acts. The United States Attorney’s Office has no higher priority than protecting U.S. citizens.”
Brian D. Lamkin, Special Agent in Charge, FBI Atlanta Field Office, stated, “This defendant was part of an orchestrated kidnapping crew which required and received the full attention of the community’s surrounding law enforcement effort. While the FBI is very proud of the role that it played in getting this defendant and his cohorts off of the streets and into the federal criminal justice system, this was truly an example of the area’s many law enforcement agencies working long hours together to ensure the public’s safety.”
The evidence presented during trial revealed that Murray and others conspired to commit two separate kidnappings in the Bryan County area in late 2011 and early 2012. The first kidnapping occurred on December 1, 2011. During this incident, the victim was abducted at gunpoint and later released only after a ransom was paid. The second kidnapping occurred on January 12, 2012. The second victim was also abducted at gunpoint and released only after a ransom was paid. Murray’s DNA was found in the home of one of the victims. Witnesses also identified Murray’s voice from the recorded ransom telephone calls.
Before trial, Cecil Dewitt Nelson, 32, and Gary Lenion McDonald, 35, each pled guilty to their role in the two kidnappings. McDonald testified against Murray at trial; he was one of 30 witnesses called by the United States.
Murray was convicted of conspiracy to commit kidnapping, two kidnappings, three firearm charges, and obstruction. Nelson and McDonald each pled guilty to conspiring to commit kidnapping. The conspiracy charge alone carries a maximum penalty of life in prison. In addition, Murray faces a 57-year consecutive sentence on his three firearm convictions. Each of the three defendants remain in custody pending their sentencings, which will be scheduled by Judge Edenfield after the U.S. Probation Office conducts a presentence investigation.
The convictions of Murray, Nelson, and McDonald resulted from a joint investigation by the FBI, the U.S. Marshals Service, NCIS, the Georgia Bureau of Investigation, the Georgia State Patrol, the Bryan County Sheriff’s Office, the Tattnall County Sheriff’s Office, the Bulloch County Sheriff’s Office, the Liberty County Sheriff’s Office, the Richmond Hill Police Department, the Pooler Police Department, the Pembroke Police Department, and the Hinesville Police Department.
Assistant United States Attorneys Brian T. Rafferty and Carlton R. Bourne, Jr. prosecuted the case on behalf of the United States. For additional information, please contact First Assistant United States Attorney James D. Durham at (912) 201-2547.