Today marks decade since sentencing
by Wes Mayer
Today marks the 10-year anniversary of the sentencing of Michael Denny and his brother Ricky Lee Denny, accused for the execution-style murders of Coweta County residents Joe and George Rainwater in 1990.
In 2004, both men were found guilty and sentenced by Superior Court Judge William J. Smith on two counts of malice murder merged with felony murder, along with counts of burglary and possession of a firearm during the commission of a crime, according to the case records. They were both sentenced to serve consecutive life sentences for the murders, 20 years for the burglary and five years for the firearm possession. The case was prosecuted by Coweta Judicial Circuit District Attorney Peter Skandalakis and Assistant District Attorney Raymond Mayer.
Michael is currently serving in Hays State Prison, and Ricky in serving in Wilcox State Prison, according to the Georgia Department of Corrections
A third man, Russell Gregory Brown, the co-defendant in the case, was sentenced to serve 10 years for the burglary of the Rainwater home — he was being released from Walker State Prison today after serving his full time.
The murders occurred on Jan. 24, 1990, at the home of Kevin Rainwater on Martin Mill Road near Moreland, according to the court transcript. On that day, neighbors saw a suspicious white van parked at the home and contacted Kevin’s nearby relatives — Kevin’s father, Joe, and brother, George, arrived at the home to check on the home.
Shortly after, George’s wife also arrived, entered the home and found both George and Joe dead with gunshot wounds to the head, according to the transcript.
Then- Investigator Mike Yeager — who is now Coweta County sheriff — arrived, and photographs and evidence, including .380 shell casings and a cigarette butt, were taken from the scene, according to the transcript. The chief medical examiner, Dr. Kris Sperry, determined that Joe died from two close gunshots to the head, and George died from one — both from a .380 semi-automatic pistol.
The home was also ransacked, and numerous items were stolen — an AR-15 rifle, a .22 pistol, a shotgun, a bottle of liquor and other items, according to the transcript.
The crime was unsolved at that time, but in 1997, as sheriff, Yeager re-opened the case. Investigator Tony Grant resumed the investigation and was able to trace the stolen rifle and resubmitted the cigarette butt for DNA analysis with the Georgia Bureau of Investigation’s crime lab. On Dec. 14, 2001, the crime lab got a DNA hit on Michael Denny.
According to the transcript, Investigator John Lewis and Special Agent Larry Duren with the GBI served a search warrant and obtained a DNA sample from Michael Denny on Jan. 15. This DNA was successfully matched in the GBI crime lab.
At the same time, investigators ran a criminal history on Michael and found he was arrested in Spalding County for burglary on Jan. 31, 1990, with his brothers Ricky Denny and Kenneth Frady and another man, Russell Brown — this arrest occurred seven days after the murders of George and Joe Rainwater.
According to the transcript, Lewis and Duren decided to first meet with the only non-relative, Brown. During the interview, Brown told investigators everything — how he would do burglaries with Michael and Ricky, and how on that day in 1990, they picked a home on Martin Mill Road to burglarize. He then told investigators how Michael and Ricky pulled George and Joe Rainwater into the home, and Ricky told Michael to shoot them both.
Because of Brown’s cooperation and testimony in the trial, he was allowed to plead guilty to only the burglary of the Rainwater home. He was sentenced to serve 10 years for the crime.