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Three convicted of killing rapper who was shot while waiting for baby's birth

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Three men were convicted for the murder of a local rapper who was shot multiple times outside the hospital where he had arrived to witness the birth of his child.

The triggerman, 25-year-old Deandre Washington, was found guilty of felony murder, aggravated assault, conspiracy to commit a crime and participation in criminal street gang activity as well as weapon offenses, according to the Fulton County District Attorney’s Office. He was sentenced to life plus 20 years in prison without the possibility of parole for the 2012 shooting of 19-year-old Melvin Vernell III, spokeswoman Yvette Jones said.

Gary Bradford, 35, was convicted of participation in criminal street gang activity and conspiracy to commit a crime and sentenced to 25 years in prison, Jones said. Maurice Conner, 29, was also convicted of participation in criminal street gang activity and conspiracy to commit a crime as well as weapons offenses and sentenced to 30 years behind bars, she said.

Vernell, an emerging local rapper known as “Lil Phat,” was shot and killed on June 7, Jones said. His body was discovered inside his car in the parking lot of Northside Hospital in Sandy Springs, she said.

Investigators said the three men conspired to kill the victim in retaliation for a drug robbery they believed Vernell orchestrated. The men tracked Vernell’s vehicle to Northside Hospital where he was awaiting the birth of his child, Jones said.They lurked in nearby bushes, ambushed the victim from behind, and fired five shots at close-range as he attempted to enter his car, Jones aid.

The men fled the scene but were eventually developed as suspects after an exhaustive investigation by the Sandy Springs Police Department in conjunction with DA Investigators, Jones said. Trial against a separate co-defendant, Mani Chulpayev, an alleged Russian mobster, is still pending, she said.