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Bus stop killer sentenced to life | News

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Bus stop killer sentenced to life

DEKALB COUNTY, Ga. -- The man accused of gunning down a woman at a MARTA bus stop last year pleaded guilty to the crime.

Christopher Merritt faced the death penalty for the murder of 19-year-old Marcaysia Dawkins. After he entered his plea Tuesday morning, a DeKalb County Superior Court judge dropped the death penalty and sentenced him to life in prison without parole.

Dawkins died Nov. 23, 2014 as she waited at the MARTA bus stop on Fairington Road in Lithonia. Prosecutors said Merritt approached her and tried to steal her purse. When she fought back, he shot her twice.

"It's truly a disturbing thought that Ms. Dawkins could have been anyone on any given day," DeKalb County District Attorney Robert James said in a statement. "The life of a vibrant, young and hardworking 19-year-old woman was taken away in broad daylight."

Merritt was charged with malice murder, felony murder, armed robbery and aggravated assault in Dawkins' death. He was also charged with rape for three unrelated sexual assaults. Prosecutors said in each case, he placed a gun to the victim's head and forced her to have sex with him.

Court records show Merritt was arrested on a theft charge in June 2013, but was able to plead the case down to a misdemeanor.

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