DeKalb County

2 found guilty of murdering DeKalb convenience store owner leaving work

LITHONIA, Ga. — Two men have been convicted of murder in the death of a Lithionia convenience store owner.

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On July 1, a DeKalb County jury found Ronnie Miller, 46, and Ricky Character, 24, guilty on charges of malice murder, felony murder, aggravated assault, criminal attempt to commit armed robbery, and possession of a firearm during the commission of a felony stemming from the death of Tesfaye Birru, 57.

The investigation began on February 19, 2020, when DeKalb officers were called to the Tic Toc Food Mart on Evans Mill Road regarding a person shot.

When officers arrived, they found the store’s owner, Birru, dead in the parking lot with multiple gunshot wounds. Officials said the keys to the store were still in his hand, and a gun and a holster were both found near his body.


According to the DeKalb County District Attorney’s Office, surveillance video showed three masked men with guns. The men drove a vehicle with the lights off into the parking lot and waited for Birru to lock up the store. One of the suspects, later identified as Miller, was wearing a camouflage jacket, blue shoes, and a mask and ran up to Birru.

Police said when the victim tried to pull his gun, Miller shot him. Another suspect came from around an ice bin and shot Birru in the head.

The three men then drove away in their car.

Police received tips that led to DeKalb police conducting search warrants on Miller’s car. From there, officers said they found the jacket, blue shoes, a ski mask, and cell photo data that placed him at the scene during the murder.

After searching Miller’s phone, investigators found a cell phone number belonging to Character.

Character and Miller communicated before and after the murder, the DA’s office said. Cell phone data also placed Character at the scene of the murder, and he made statements on social media that implicated him in the murder.

Miller and Character are also linked to a January 2020 robbery in Rockdale with a similar pattern.

The third suspect remains unidentified.

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Miller was sentenced to life without the possibility of parole plus 45 years. Character was sentenced to life without the possibility of parole plus 35 years.

Miller was also convicted on separate counts of felony murder and possession of a firearm by a convicted felon.


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