Phenix City man convicted of murder in less than an hour

A Russell County jury took less than an hour Friday to convict a Phenix City man of murder.

The mother of Steve Lawrence collapsed after she heard her 42-year-old son was guilty of murdering Clayton Perry, 33. Deputies had to bring her to a chair and revive her just before noon.

"I feel that justice has been served, and I'm just glad it's over" said Perry's mother, Sarah Perry. "It won't bring my son back, but I'm glad it's over. I felt relieved, but I hate it happened that way, because he has a mother and father also."

Lawrence shot Perry around 11:30 a.m. Aug. 3, 2006, outside of Riverview Apartments, said Chief Assistant District Attorney Buster Landreau. Both men had fathered children with 26-year-old Deborah Johnson, and Lawrence had driven to her Fourth Avenue apartment to pick up his then 6-month-old child.

Perry was at Johnson's apartment when Lawrence arrived and followed her as she approached his car.

"He (Perry) gets about two to three feet away from the car with his hands visible, and he suddenly pushes the girl out of the way, puts his hands up as if to surrender and is walking away when he is shot," Landreau said. "A jury did not believe that (Lawrence) acted in self-defense."

Three witnesses waiting behind Lawrence's car saw the shooting and gave a different account from Lawrence's, who claimed Perry reached inside the car and threatened him.

"What they said about my brother being violent, he's not violent," said brother Stephen Perry.

"We know our brother," added Clinton Perry, Clayton Perry's fraternal twin. "They don't know our brother."

Lawrence's sentencing by Judge George Greene is scheduled for Feb. 20. He faces 20 years to life in prison.

"He should get life without the possibility of parole," said Wilbert Perry Sr., Clayton Perry's father. "He shouldn't be allowed back on the streets ever."