MARIETTA — Three men convicted Friday of murder, armed robbery and aggravated assault in the July 2011 shooting death of Derek Gray Jr. of Marietta were sentenced today to life in prison without parole.
Sentenced were Harvey ‘Rucks’ Hogans, 27, of New York, Derek Lee Kemp, 32, of Marietta and Alphonso ‘JRock’ Watkins, 31, of Marietta.
Cobb Superior Court Judge Mary Staley granted Deputy Chief Assistant District Attorney Jesse Evans’ request that all three men serve life in prison without the possibility of parole.
Gray was shot July 1, 2011, inside a Ford Taurus that was later found burned in Union City. His body was found in a wooded area off of Circle 75 Parkway near Cumberland Mall at Interstate 75 in Cobb County, on land that has since been sold to the Atlanta Braves organization for a proposed new baseball stadium.
Evans told jurors Watkins had set up Gray to enable the trio to rob him.
Kemp and Watkins have prior felony convictions that required the sentence of life without parole. Hogans is believed to be the man who pulled the trigger killing Gray.
The men were found not guilty of another count of felony murder and one count of violating Georgia’s Street Gang Terrorism and Prevention Act.
The mother and sister of Gray tearfully asked the court Monday for the maximum punishment.
The pain has been too much to bear,” said Helen Brown, Gray’s mother. “I pray no other mother will have to experience the pain these defendants have caused me.”
Gray’s older sister, Kia Hansford, said her brother had a passion for football and enjoyed creating music.
“My heart hurts thinking he was in pain,” she said. “He was only married for six days. He never got to hold his son.”
Hogans was represented by Marietta attorney Jimmy Berry. Kemp was represented by attorneys Bruce Harvey and Kimberly Cornwell of Atlanta. Watkins was represented by attorney Jill Stahlman of Marietta.