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NO DEATH PENALTY: Jury cannot reach unanimous vote

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    Donnie Rowe Jr. is taken away by Putnam County Sheriff Howard Sills after Chief Judge Brenda Trammell sentenced him to life in prison without the possibility of parole.

On Wednesday, Sept. 29, Ocmulgee Judicial Circuit Chief Judge Brenda H. Trammell – in the Putnam County Courthouse – sentenced Donnie Rowe Jr. to life without the possibility of parole in connection to the malice and felony murders of two Georgia Department of Corrections officers in June, 2017. Rowe Jr. was facing the death penalty after being convicted of six counts, including escape and hijacking a motor vehicle, by a jury of 12 from Grady County.

Those officers were Christopher Monica and Curtis Billue, who were in charge of a transport bus carrying 33 inmates from Hancock State Prison to Jackson. When the bus entered Putnam County on Highway 16, Rowe Jr. and Ricky Dubose initiated an escape in which the officers were shot to death.

With this being a death penalty trial, the jury was initially charged with deliberating on the sentence after both the state and the defense presented their cases in the sentencing phase. The jury retired to its room on Tuesday at 3:45 p.m. and asked to continue discussions Wednesday morning. But after more than seven hours total, early Wednesday afternoon, the jury members informed Chief Judge Trammell they were unable to come to a unanimous vote.

At 2:20 p.m., Chief Judge Trammell dismissed the jury, and it became her duty to impose sentence on Rowe Jr.

Prior to the sentencing, the judge allowed for victim impact statements as allowed by the Victim’s Bill of Rights.