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Hall divers recover gun believed used in murder of Gwinnett deputy, her daughters

POSTED: March 11, 2008 5:00 a.m.

A diver with the Hall County Sheriff’s office Friday morning recovered the handgun believed to be used in a Thursday night triple shooting that claimed the life of a Gwinnett County deputy and her two daughters.

Gwinnett County police requested the help of Hall County’s dive team in searching for the gun, which was discarded in a private pond in Duluth, Hall County Sheriff’s Maj. Jeff Strickland said.

The gun was found quickly, Strickland said.

The suspect in the slayings, 17-year-old Anthony Tyrone Terrell Jr., told authorities two locations where he threw the gun, according to Gwinnett Police Officer David P Schiralli.

Gwinnett County Police spokeswoman Illana Spellman said she could not confirm whether Deleston’s service weapon was used in the fatal shootings or if there were any prior police calls to the home.

Joy Delestron, a seven-year employee of the Gwinnett Sheriff’s office, was shot to death along with her two daughters, 11-year-old Micaiah and 4-year-old Jelani, inside their home on Madison Chase Drive in Lawrenceville at about 8 p.m. Thursday, police said. Terrell, the accused killer, is Delestron’s son, Schiralli said.

Gwinnett County authorities were still investigating the shootings on Friday at the family home.

Terrell is charged with murder and is being held without bond in neighboring DeKalb County to avoid any potential conflict because Deleston worked for Gwinnett County. Deleston was assigned to the Sex Offender unit, officials said.

Because of his age, prosecutors cannot seek the death penalty against Terrell. A preliminary hearing will be scheduled next week in Gwinnett County Superior Court, said District Attorney Danny Porter.

Police had gone to the subdivision because a caller reported shots had been fired, officer David Schiralli said earlier. They found a bullet hole in a house, then checked next door because they knew a deputy lived there.

"There was no answer, but lights were on," Schiralli said. "They opened the door a little bit to announce themselves." That was when they discovered the bodies, he said.

The 17-year-old son arrived at the house about 35 minutes later, he said. Spellman said he was arrested after talking to investigators, but didn’t elaborate.

Neighbors in the Madison Chase subdivision said the family moved in less than a year ago. They often saw Deleston in her squad car coming home from work and said having a deputy in the neighborhood was reassuring.

"When she moved in, it made you feel a little bit better," said Jeff Beaird, who has lived across the street for about three years.

He often saw Terrell in the driveway shooting hoops with his friends or washing his mother’s patrol car but doesn’t remember anything out of the ordinary.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.



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