Fall is officially here. While the temperatures and leaves are slowly changing, our commitment to safeguarding the people of DeKalb County remains steadfast.

So far this year, our team has secured justice in some high-interest cases, including a conviction in the tragic murder of a high school homecoming queen last fall, and a guilty plea from a former corrections officer charged with excessive force inside the county jail.  

In August, I led the charge as three other district attorneys from around the state joined me in filing a legal challenge to Senate Bill 92. The new law creates a commission with the power to investigate, discipline and remove elected prosecutors from office, overriding the will of voters. I firmly believe this law is not just an assault on prosecutors, but an assault on democracy, and we are prepared to take our fight all the way to the Georgia Supreme Court.  

While that issue remains in the headlines, it is the often unseen work that is closest to my heart. This summer, 15 young people graduated from our STRIDE Program, our largest cohort ever. STRIDE stands for Stopping Trends of Repeat Incarceration with Diversion and Education. The program holds young adults accountable for serious, non-violent crimes they have committed, while also ensuring their civic and career opportunities remain intact.  

I will never forget the conversations I had with the graduates’ families after the ceremony, the pride their loved ones felt for their accomplishments, and the positive changes they say the program has made in their homes.  

I am also deeply proud of the three staff members recently honored for their work. Senior Investigator Crispin Henry was presented with the Investigator of the Year Award, Division 3, by the District Attorney’s Association of Georgia. Georgia Arson Control named Senior Assistant District Attorney Ryan Patrick Arson Prosecutor of the Year. Investigator Alyssa Zackery, with our Homicide and Gangs Unit, received the President’s Award at the Georgia Gang Investigators Association (GGIA) Annual Summer Conference.  

It is my honor and privilege to work alongside these dedicated public servants each and every day. We look forward to closing out another successful year for the great people of DeKalb County.


District Attorney
Stone Mountain Judicial Circuit

Senate Bill 92 Legal Challenge

In August, DA Boston and a bipartisan group of Georgia district attorneys filed a legal challenge against Senate Bill 92. The law, which went into effect in July, created the Prosecuting Attorneys Qualifications Commission, or PAQC. The panel is made up of political appointees and has the power to investigate, discipline and even remove duly elected prosecutors from office. Anyone removed from their position cannot serve as a district attorney or solicitor general in Georgia for 10 years.  

Voters here in DeKalb County and all across the state have used the power of the ballot box to set their priorities in the courtroom. Our community has entrusted DA Boston to safeguard them through fair and vigorous prosecution—prioritizing violent crimes.  

But SB 92 empowers the PAQC to second-guess not only the decisions of prosecutors, but the decisions of voters.  

This law is an assault on prosecutorial independence and an assault on democracy and DA Boston has pledged that she will continue to fight it all the way to the Georgia Supreme Court.

Cold Case Work

DA Boston Announces Break in Decades-Old Cold Case Homicide & Grant to Aid in Cold Cases of Unidentified Individuals

In March, DA Boston announced a major development in the case of an unidentified homicide victim whose remains were found in September 1993. The victim has been positively identified as Rebecca “Becky” Burke, 52. She was found in a wooded area behind the Fairfield Inn located at 2155 Ranchwood Drive (now the Quality Inn Northlake) at the intersection of Parklake Drive in the Tucker area, and could not be identified at the time. 

Burke’s identity was confirmed this year with DNA testing funded as a part of a collaboration between the National Missing and Unidentified Persons System (NamUs) and Othram, a company specializing in Forensic Genetic Genealogy (FGG). FGG is an emerging investigative technique that combines technological advancements in DNA analysis with traditional genealogy research, which linked Burke to a living family member.  

DeKalb County Cold Case Task Force

Burke’s case was the first success story for the Dekalb County Cold Case Task Force, a newly-formed coalition consisting of staff from the DeKalb County District Attorney’s Office, the DeKalb County Medical Examiner’s Office, the FBI, the Georgia Bureau of Investigation, the DeKalb County Police Department, and a private lab partner, Innovative Forensic Investigations.

The Task Force was conceived after the successful July 2022 announcement of the identification of William DaShawn Hamilton, only six years old at the time of his death in 1999, and the indictment of his mother, Teresa Ann Bailey Black, for his murder.

Missing and Unidentified Human

Remains Grant

The DeKalb DA’s Office has been awarded a three-year Missing and Unidentified Human Remains (MUHR) Program grant in the amount of $496,045 to identify the remains of 27 individuals found in DeKalb County. The funding, provided by the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ), Office of Justice Programs (OJP), Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA), is intended for use in improving the reporting, transportation, processing, and identification of missing persons and unidentified human remains.

The DA’s Office is one of only six entities nationally to receive a grant through the MUHR Program and the only prosecutor’s office to receive an award. The Task Force is using the funds to catalog, report, test, identify and return to families the unidentified remains of 27 individuals.

In May, the DA’s Office and the Medical Examiner’s Office hosted a Missing Persons Event and DNA Drive in coordination with this work. Families of missing persons had the opportunity to open new reports on their missing relatives and donate DNA to assist with identification efforts.

The DeKalb County Cold Case Task Force seeks information about Burke’s death. Anyone who may have known or interacted with her in the days and months leading up to her death in 1993 or worked at the Fairfield Inn in the Tucker area during that time frame, is encouraged to call the DeKalb County District Attorney’s Cold Case Tip Line at 404-371-2444. Callers may remain anonymous.

Read more about Burke’s identification and the MUHR grant.

In the News

DeKalb County diversion program aims to break cycles of incarceration among young adults

WABE, July 26, 2023

The DeKalb County District Attorney’s Office is taking a unique approach to second chances.

Since 2020, District Attorney Sherry Boston has been dismissing criminal charges for young adults between the ages of 17 and 24 who participate in a year-long, pretrial diversion program known as STRIDE, or Stopping Trends of Repeat Incarceration with Diversion and Education.

Listen to the story.

Former lawyer Richard Merritt, accused of killing mother, found guilty on all counts

FOX 5, May 21, 2023

A verdict has been reached in the Richard Merritt trial, the former attorney accused of killing his mother. 

Merritt has been found guilty on all counts including malice murder, felony murder and aggravated assault. He was sentenced to life without parole.

The courtroom finally saw emotion from Merritt when these guilty verdicts were read. He immediately dropped his head, took off his glasses and began rubbing his eyes. With that, the DeKalb County trial of Richard Merritt, who is accused of brutally murdering his mother, has concluded.

Watch the story.

Former director of Ga. housing division indicted on RICO charges related to alleged tax theft scheme

WSB-TV, July 14, 2023

Prosecutors say the former director of a state-wide agency that is supposed to help low-income Georgians secure housing was the ringleader in an elaborate scheme to steal state and federal tax dollars.

Shawn WIlliams ran the Housing Assistance Division, which provides HUD money to help low-income Georgians get a home. In a new RICO indictment, prosecutors allege that Williams was diverting tax dollars to fake businesses for personal gain.

Watch the story.

Man convicted of killing metro Atlanta homecoming queen

11Alive, August 8, 2023

A jury delivered a guilty verdict in the case of a man who shot and killed the homecoming queen of a metro Atlanta high school. According to the DeKalb County District Attorney's Office, the 24-year-old was sentenced to life plus 25 years in prison, claiming he killed her because she was cheating on him.

Jayne Salazar-Chavez was 17 years old when she was shot and killed by Nakia Dorsey on Nov. 10, court documents say. Dorsey was found guilty on charges of felony murder, possession of a firearm during the commission of a felony and two counts of aggravated assault.

Watch the story.

Indictments & Dispositions

Man Indicted in Animal Cruelty Case

Mekhi Jackson, 21, was indicted by a DeKalb County Grand Jury on three charges of felony aggravated cruelty to animals and one count of tampering with evidence in connection with a deadly animal cruelty case. The charges stem from an incident at an apartment complex on Flat Shoals Road on March 12, 2023 that was captured on video and shared online. Read more.

Life in Prison for Man Convicted of Shooting and Killing 75-Year-Old Grandfather

Vincent Almond, 32, was convicted on charges of Malice Murder, Felony Murder, Aggravated Assault, and Possession of a Firearm during Commission of a Felony in connection with the shooting death of his grandfather, 75-year-old Henry Benton in August of 2020. Read more.

Decatur Man Indicted in ATM Bombing

Abdurrahim Jalal, 53, was indicted by a DeKalb County Grand Jury on charges of Use of a Destructive Device with Intent to Destroy a Structure, Arson in the Second Degree, Theft by Taking and Manufacturing a Destructive Device, for allegedly blowing up a Bank of America ATM near North DeKalb Mall and stealing the money inside on March 29, 2023. Read more.

Atlanta Man Convicted in Shooting at Lithonia Apartment Complex

Jurors found Gary Davis, 24, guilty on charges of Malice Murder, Felony Murder, Criminal Damage to Property in the First Degree, Possession of a Firearm during the Commission of a Felony, Theft by Receiving Stolen Property, and three counts of Aggravated Assault in connection with shooting a driver who then crashed into an apartment building, trapping the woman who lived inside. Read more.

Former DeKalb County Jail Corrections Officer Pleads Guilty in Case of Excessive Force Against Inmates

Former DeKalb County Jail Officer Cesary Wilborn, 33, who was accused of violating his oath as a public officer by using excessive force against inmates, pled guilty to charges of Aggravated Assault, Aggravated Battery, and three counts of Violation of Oath by a Public Officer in connection to incidents dating back to 2016 and 2018. Read more.

To read more about recent dispositions and news from the DA’s Office, visit the News section of the website.

In the Community

JustUS MOTUS Monologues

DA Boston and Douglas County District Attorney Dalia Racine partnered with Colorado-based Motus Theater in April to co-host JustUs Monologues, a special performance of personal stories from people who have experienced the impact of incarceration.

During the moving performance, Retired Atlanta Police Homicide Detective David Quinn and Renowned Broadcast Journalist Monica Kaufman Pearson, Peachtree TV (WPCH-TV), joined DA Boston and DA Racine in co-reading poignant autobiographical accounts from the frontlines of the criminal justice system. The monologues were interwoven with inspiring musical responses by nationally acclaimed singers, The ReMINDers.

In collaboration with Fair & Just Prosecution, Motus Theater is touring JustUs Monologues with district attorneys across the country to inspire thoughtful dialogue on the impact the criminal justice system has on communities.

DA Boston attended the National Black Prosecutors Association’s 40th Annual Conference. John Legend, who was presented with the 2023 Agent of Change Award during the conference for his activism, also took time to have an intimate conversation with DA Boston and other prosecutors about criminal justice reform.

In August, DA Boston was a guest of

Vice President Kamala Harris at the Black

Women in Elected Leadership reception at the VP’s residence in Washington, D.C. 

Staff traveled to several locations throughout the community for the National Night Out celebration in August. National Night Out is an annual community-building campaign that promotes police-community partnerships and neighborhood camaraderie to make neighborhoods safer, more caring places to live.

In May, DA Boston hosted the quarterly meeting

of the Urban District Attorneys' Coalition.

Representatives from the IVYY Project (Interrupting Violence in Youth and Young Adults) attended and gave an insightful and eye-opening presentation to district attorneys from across the state.

In honor of Crime Victims’ Rights Week in April, the Victim-Witness Assistance Program hosted a special event for survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault. During “Survivor Rock Painting: a Trauma-informed Healing and Wellness Activity,” survivors were invited to

paint and decorate a rock with a positive message or affirmation to encourage their healing journey.

September is recognized as National Senior Center Month. The Crimes Against Elder Persons & Adults with Disabilities Unit visited the South DeKalb Senior Center and the East Central DeKalb Community & Senior Center to talk about crimes targeting seniors. The team also distributed a new Sweepstakes Fraud Placemat, a reusable item arming seniors with valuable tips and information about a common scam.

Members of DA Boston’s team enjoyed an evening at the Georgia Association of Black Women Attorneys (GABWA) Foundation, Inc.'s 2023 Glitter Gala and Auction. Congratulations to GABWA on a fantastic 40th anniversary event, and to all of the honorees!

DA Boston and members of her team attended the Georgia Center for Child Advocacy’s annual Change Makers Breakfast in April in commemoration of Child Abuse Prevention Month. Douglas County DA Dalia Racine gave a moving and heartfelt keynote address.

Members of the Crime Strategies & Community Partnerships Unit participated in the Tucker Precinct's Coffee With A Cop event.

DA Boston and members of her team had an impactful evening at the Champions for Change fundraiser benefiting the Women's Resource Center to End Domestic Violence. 

Boston’s Ballers made their third appearance

in the DeKalb County Misdemeanor Mental Health Court's Full Court Press Basketball Tournament. The team was proud to support mental wellness and the advancement of mental health resources.

DA Boston was honored to attend the DeKalb County 9/11 Memorial Ceremony on September 11th, and to commemorate Georgia First Responders Appreciation Day. We thank all of the first responders who put their lives on the

line each and every day.

People & Accomplishments

Prosecuting Attorneys' Council Awards

At the Prosecuting Attorneys' Council Summer Conference, two staff members were recognized for their dedication and hard work. 

Senior Investigator Crispin Henry, with the Sexual Assault Kit Initiative (SAKI) Unit, was presented the Investigator of the Year Award, Division 3, by the District Attorney’s Association of Georgia (DAAG). An excerpt from his nomination letter illustrates Inv. Henry’s work ethic: “If you ask any of his colleagues, they will tell you that Senior Inv. Henry truly cares about the work he does and will volunteer in any way that someone needs him. He puts victims and witnesses at ease, and he has become a great mentor because of his passion and the way he thinks outside of the box.” Inv. Henry’s work in the SAKI Unit, the assistance he offers on SAKI cases throughout the state, and his passion for finding justice in these cases is unparalleled. 

Senior Assistant District Attorney Ryan Patrick, with the Trial Division, was named Arson Prosecutor of the Year, presented by Georgia Arson Control. ADA Patrick received this award in honor of her work to secure a conviction last July in the 2018 arson case that destroyed Java Monkey, a well-loved coffee shop housed in Downtown Decatur for more than 25 years. An excerpt from her nomination letter showcases her dedication to the case: “Senior ADA Patrick was fully invested in this case. She took it upon herself to go out and train with the Fire Department so she could get a better understanding of how arson investigations work and to gain the ability to translate everything to the jury in an easy to understand manner.”

Georgia Gang Investigators Association President's Award

Investigator Alyssa Zackery, with the Homicide and Gangs Unit, received the President’s Award at the Georgia Gang Investigators Association (GGIA) Annual Summer Conference held in Athens in July. Inv. Zackery, who currently serves as the Treasurer of the GGIA, received the award in recognition of her leadership, determination, support, and friendship displayed to the members of GGIA and the citizens of Georgia. The organization stated, “Your efforts and love for the association kept us together and got us through the difficult challenges of 2022.” 

Georgia State University 40 Under 40 Honoree

Senior Assistant District Attorney Tyshawn Jackson was selected by the Georgia State University Alumni Association as an honoree in its 2023 class of remarkable alumni under the age of 40. Started in 2018, Georgia State’s 40 Under 40 program annually celebrates the most influential and accomplished Georgia State graduates who embody the values of the university.

Tyshawn leads the Firearm Violence Prevention Unit, which began operating in 2022, and is the first of its kind in Georgia. The unit works collaboratively with other units in the office to reduce the proliferation of gun violence in the DeKalb community.

Service Awards

In August, DA Boston honored the hard work and dedication of several team members celebrating years of service ranging from 10 to 30 years with DeKalb County!

Coming Up

Registration Now Open for 9th Annual Love Run 5K

Saturday, February 24, 2024

8:30 a.m. start

The Square in Downtown Decatur

1 Courthouse Square    

Join DA Boston for the 9th Annual Love Run 5K, in commemoration of Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month. All proceeds benefit the Women's Resource Center to End Domestic Violence (WRC). Since its inception, the event has raised more than $80,000 for WRC!

This Atlanta Journal-Constitution Peachtree Road Race Qualifier race is electronically chip-timed as participants follow a fast-paced course through historic downtown Decatur. All participants will receive a signature long sleeve shirt and race medal, as well as a $10 off coupon to Big Peach.

Early bird registration for the 2024 race is only $30 through 12/31/23! And don’t forget to invite your friends to join you…a 10% discount is available for groups of 10 or more! Register here.

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