Man convicted of murder in deaths of Georgia prison guards

EATONTON, Ga. (AP) — A Georgia prisoner has been found guilty of murder in the killings of two guards during an escape from a prison bus five years ago.

A jury deliberated about 90 minutes Monday evening before convicting Ricky Dubose in the June 2017 shooting deaths of Sgt. Christopher Monica and Sgt. Curtis Billue, news outlets reported. Now jurors will have to decide whether he should be sentenced to die for the killings or should spend the rest of his life in prison.

Gabrielle Amber Pittman, an attorney for Dubose, told jurors during opening statements that Dubose was guilty, but she asked them to find him guilty and intellectually disabled, which would have made him ineligible for the death penalty. But the jury did not attach any qualifications to the guilty verdict.

Because of intense publicity surrounding the killings, a jury was brought in from coastal Glynn County.

Dubose and Donnie Rowe escaped together from the bus in Putnam County, southeast of Atlanta, and were arrested in Tennessee days later. Rowe was convicted last year of murder in the guards’ death. A judge sentenced him to life in prison without parole after jurors failed He was sentenced to life in prison without parole by a judge after jurors could not agree on whether he should be sentenced to death.

Dubose was accused of firing the gun that killed the officers after he and Rowe slipped out of handcuffs and burst through an unlocked gate at the front of the bus. Prosecutors say Dubose grabbed one of the officers’ weapons and shot Monica, the guard, and then Billue, the driver, both in the head. Security cameras on the bus recorded the violent escape and roughly 30 other prisoners witnessed the killings.

Dubose, 29, was serving a 20-year sentence for a 2015 armed robbery and assault in Elbert County when he escaped. He had been in prison earlier, as well.

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