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February 14--  A Vidalia man will spend the rest of his natural life in prison after having been found guilty of murder in  Fulton County last week.

According to Fulton County District Attorney Paul L. Howard, Jr., Denzel Atkins was convicted of the murder of 22-year-old Elijah Wallace in December 2015.

According to the District Attorney  Atkins and Harold Foster, also of Vidalia, used Foster’s girlfriend's car to drive to Atlanta where they contacted Wallace under the disguise of making a marijuana deal. At the meeting, Wallace got into the back seat of the car where he noticed a 9mm handgun lying in Atkins’ lap. Wallace gave up his backpack that contained a significant amount of marijuana and $20,000 in cash. He also showed Atkins that he, too, was carrying a handgun. After Atkins confirmed the drugs and money were in the backpack, he pointed his gun at Wallace and fired 13 times. Wallace died from gunshot wounds to his head, torso and extremities.

After the murder, Atkins and Foster dumped Wallace’s body at a nearby intersection in Atlanta.

On the way back to Vidalia, Atkins and Foster attempt to dispose of Wallace’s shoes, cell phone and gun by throwing them out the car window along Interstate 20. When they got back to Vidalia, Atkins told Foster’s girlfriend that he was going to have to burn her car to destroy evidence. Later, the girlfriend made a report that her car had been stolen. The car was later discovered in Montgomery, Alabama, and it appeared that someone had attempted to burn it according to the district attorney.
   
Foster was arrested in Decatur on January 20, 2016, and on March 2, 2016, Atkins was arrested in Savannah, after being discovered hiding in a friend’s attic..
   
The 2015 murder was not the first for Atkins. In 2014, he was arrested and charged with the murder of Perry Herbert in Candler County. Herbert’s body was found on Excelsior Church Road  in June of that year. Middle Judicial Circuit District Attorney Hayward Altman tried that case in Candler County, but the jury was deadlocked and Atkins was no convicted.

Last week, Altman said he believes Atkins has been involved in numerous robberies and murders in this circuit, and said the defendant had terrorized the local community for too long. Altman said he is appreciative of the Fulton County District Attorney’s Office, the Georgia Bureau of Investigation and the Atlanta Police investigators for bringing Atkins to justice.

Atkins was convicted in Atlanta for murder, felony murder, armed robbery, aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, criminal attempt to purchase marijuana, and possession of a firearm during the commission of a felony. He was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole plus an additional life sentence plus 15 years.

The case against Foster is still active and pending in Fulton County Superior County.

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