Man Found Guilty Of 1985 Church Murders

BRUNSWICK, Ga. – It took a jury only three hours to find a Jacksonville man guilty of killing two people inside their Camden County church almost 18 years ago.

Dennis Perry, 40 (pictured, left), was found guilty Friday night of felony murder in the shooting deaths of 66-year-old Harold Swain and his wife, 62-year-old Thelma Swain, inside the Rising Daughter Church in Spring Bluff.

The two were gunned down during a Bible study class in March 1985 while eight other parishioners watched.

Closing arguments in the case ended Friday afternoon and Judge Amanda Williams instructed the jury that they could find him guilty of felony murder, voluntary manslaughter or not guilty to the two counts against him.

The jury returned guilty verdicts on two counts of murder about 7:30 p.m.

The Swain family agreed not to ask for the death penalty in exchange for Powell agreeing not to appeal the verdict. Williams then sentenced Powell to two consecutive life terms.

Among the witnesses the prosecution presented this week was the Jacksonville woman who lead investigators to Perry. Jane Beaver told the jury that she recognized a composite drawing of the suspect on the TV show "Unsolved Mysteries" as the man who was dating her daughter at the time.

Beaver said she had called the Camden County Sheriff's Office numerous times, but until the case was assigned a new investigator nearly three years ago, no one ever acted on her information.

Beaver testified that Perry's grandfather had lived near the Swain's home -- not far from the church.

She said she had independently contacted two of the witnesses to the shooting, showing them pictures of Perry. She testified that they became very emotional and told her that the man in the picture resembled the killer.

Among the defense witnesses, Perry's attorney presented at least one person who testified that Perry was in Atlanta at the time of the murders.

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