EATONTON, Ga. — The two prison convicts accused of shooting to death a pair of state corrections officers in an escape from a transport bus last week in Putnam County were informed of the criminal charges against them by a judge Wednesday morning.
Ocmulgee Judicial Circuit District Attorney Ocmulgee Judicial Circuit District Attorney Stephen A. Bradley informed the court that the office will seek the death penalty.
“Judge, I’ve been asked dozens of times whether we’re seeking the death penalty in this case, and I’ve told everybody that we’re going to be thorough and we’re going to be careful in this case, and we will,” Bradley said. “But I also want to carry our burden of being candid with this court and be fair with the defendants, and tell them that based on everything we know at this point that this is very clearly a death penalty case. We’re preparing as if this is going to be a capital trial and we fully expect that it will be, judge.”
Clad in bright orange jumpsuits with Putnam County written on the back of them, Donnie Rowe, 43, and Ricky Allen “Whiskey” Dubose, 24, were led into the Putnam County Courtroom amid heavy security.
It was the escapees first time back in Putnam County since the brutal murders of the corrections officers. After their escape, they reportedly stole a car and a pickup truck and fled to Tennessee, where they committed a series of other felony crimes last week.
The escapees were returned to Putnam County during the wee morning hours Wednesday after they waived extradition from Tennessee.
Prior to the hearing the pair was led to a defense table in handcuffs and their feet shackled where they listened as Ocmulgee Judicial Circuit Superior Court Judge Brenda Trammell explained the criminal charges against them in separate hearings.
Dubose’s hearing was first.
“Mr. Dubose, I have in front of you a packet that I’ve prepared and I’ll explained this as we go along,” Trammell told Dubose. “This is your first appearance hearing, and I need to inform you of the charges against you, so that’s why I’m going to read you your warrants.”
Dubose and Rowe are each charged with two counts of murder in connection with the June 13 shooting deaths of Sgt. Curtis Billue and Sgt. Christopher Monica.
The warrants accuse Dubose and Rowe of having committed the murders with malice aforethought.
The murders were committed with the use of a 9 mm pistol, one of which was stolen from each of the officers after they were shot to death, and subsequently used in other crimes in Georgia and Tennessee.
Dubose and Rowe are both also charged with motor vehicle hijacking for reportedly stealing a car belonging to a Putnam County man following their bus escape.
The 2004 Honda Civic was stolen at gunpoint from Phillip Beasley by force and intimidation, Trammell said, as she read from the warrant.
Dubose and Rowe are also both charged with felony escape.
Trammell also informed both Dubose and Rowe that they have a right to seek a jury trial as to the charges against them, as well as a grand jury indictment in the case.
The next grand jury session in Putnam County is Sept. 18.
“Due to the nature of these charges, no bond is being set,” Trammell told each of the prison inmates, who since have been taken from Putnam County to the Georgia Diagnostic and Class Prison near Jackson.
Dubose and Rowe were each given copies of the warrants against them in Putnam County before they were escorted out of the courtroom — again under heavy security.
An official notice of the prosecutor seeking a death penalty trial against the defendants has yet to be filed.
Trammell said she understood the state’s position at this time to be the “expressed intention.”