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Body from 2009 case exhumed

POSTED: February 2, 2011 4:00 a.m.

The body of a man killed in what authorities have described as a long-standing feud over a disputed property line was exhumed Monday for further examination this week at the state crime lab.


Dillard Jewell Crane, 76, died Sept. 7, 2009, from gunshot wounds after an alleged dispute with a neighbor, Lewis Dempsey.


Dempsey, 73 at the time, was later charged with murder.


The two neighbors lived on Mill Creek Road, located west of Dahlonega between Ga. 9 and Ga. 52, near the Dawson County line.


“The crime lab ... discovered additional information on the death, of which could only be properly documented by exhuming the body,” Georgia Bureau of Investigation spokesman John Bankhead said.


Crane’s body was removed from the Mill Creek Baptist Church Cemetery.

Sheriff Stacy Jarrard deferred questions to District Attorney Jeff Langley, who couldn’t be reached for comment.


In a September 2009 interview, sheriff’s investigator Darren Martin said deputies were called to the neighbors’ homes numerous times over the past 20 years to “help keep the peace.”


On the day of Crane’s death, the men met at the area of dispute and an argument ensued, authorities said at the time.


“There was apparently some recent development and that’s what they were meeting on,” Martin said.


A witness in the area heard a gunshot. A call to 911 was placed and Crane was later found dead of an apparent gunshot wound. Crane’s wife was home but did not see the shooting, Martin said.


“No one witnessed the actual confrontation,” he added.


Dempsey is out on $100,000 bail awaiting trial, said his defense lawyer, Jeff Wolff.


“The judge has not issued orders on all the pre-trial motions at this point, so until he does that, it’s hard to see (the case) going to trial in the very near future,” he said. “... There’s a number of significant legal issues at stake.”


Wolff, who has argued that the shooting was in self-defense, also deferred questions about the exhumation to Langley.


“They have a theory as to why they think they need to re-examine his body,” he said.



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