Louisville man sentenced to 35 years in death of woman who was to testify against his brother

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LOUISVILLE, Kentucky — A Louisville man convicted of murder for his role in the death of a woman who was supposed to be a witness against his brother has been sentenced to 35 years in prison.

Media report 33-year-old Dejuan Hammond was sentenced Thursday in Jefferson County Circuit Court. He was convicted in December in the 2009 death of Troya Sheckles. Hammond maintained his innocence and told Sheckles' family, "I pray one day that you roll away the stones and see how this dark system has failed us."

Judge Angela Bisig called the murder "heinous and cowardly" because Sheckles was targeted for being a witness.

Prosecutors charged that Hammond hired a 16-year-old to kill Sheckles to save his brother, who was charged with capital murder. Defense lawyers argued that officials threatened key witnesses into lying about Hammond to reduce punishment in their own cases.

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