The Newnan Times-Herald


State seeking death penalty for prisoners who killed guards

  • By Winston Skinner
  • |
  • Sep. 20, 2017 - 9:07 PM

State seeking death penalty for prisoners who killed guards

The Newnan Times-Herald

The state is seeking the death penalty for two inmates accused of killing their guards on a Georgia prison bus three months ago.

One of those guards, Sgt. Curtis Billue, was the brother of retired Coweta educator Shelbra Mayes. The two inmates were indicted Tuesday on multiple charges, including murder, according to The Associated Press.

A grand jury indicted Donnie Russell Rowe, 44, and Ricky Dubose, 24. Each man faces two counts of murder, two counts of felony murder, one count of escape and one count of hijacking a motor vehicle, the AP reported.

Ocmulgee Judicial Circuit District Attorney Stephen Bradley filed notice with the court Tuesday that he plans to seek the death penalty against both men.

Rowe and Dubose are accused of disarming and killing Billue, 58, and Sgt. Christopher Monica, 42. Billue and Monica were guards on a bus transporting inmates. Rowe and Dubose escaped from the prison transfer bus on June 13 in Putnam County, southeast of Atlanta.

Authorities say the pair then carjacked a motorist to get away, the AP reported. They were arrested two days later in Tennessee following an intense manhunt.

A review of the escape determined the two inmates were able to easily free themselves from their handcuffs and then used an improvised tool to open an unlocked gate that separated the inmates from the guards around 6:40 a.m. They then attacked and overpowered the guards, using the guards' own guns to kill them, authorities have told the wire service.

A review by representatives from several state law enforcement agencies found that numerous security policy violations had been committed in the lead-up to the escape. The most egregious error was the failure to secure the gate to the inmate compartment in the bus, the review found. Monica and Billue also kept their guns in storage boxes rather than wearing them and failed to wear ballistic vests, among other errors, the review found, according to the AP.

Mayes retired in 2012. Before retirement, she was an instructional coach and taught gifted students at Evans Middle School. Her husband, Sydney Mayes, is a local minister.

Funeral services for Billue were at Wilkinson County High School in Irwinton, where Billue had graduated high school. He was from McIntyre, a small town in Wilkinson County, east of Macon.

Hundreds of mourners attended the service. According to the AP, law enforcement officers from around the state joined relatives and friends for the funeral.

Billue attended Fort Valley State University and later graduated from Clark University with a bachelor's degree in criminal justice/sociology.

He entered the U.S. Army as a second lieutenant and attained the rank of major during his 11 years in the military. His military assignments included Fort Hood, Texas and a posting in Korea.

In July 2007, he began his career with the Georgia Department of Corrections. He served at two other facilities before going to the Baldwin County State Prison Milledgeville in October 2011, transferring to the transportation unit in March 2013.