INFORMATION AND PHOTOS FROM THE ROME NEWS TRIBUNE:
Two of the three men charged with the murder of two Floyd County women were denied bond after a hearing Thursday.
Attorneys for Devin Lashawn Watts and Christopher Leedarius Pullen argued that the judge should consider the uncertainty of when the men could go to trial and grant them bond.
A judicial emergency order is in effect because of the coronavirus pandemic. The statewide order allows only some specific court functions to occur and is set to expire next week. However, even if the order isn’t extended due to the rising number of infections across the state, the question of case backlogs would remain.
Both men attended the hearing Thursday via videoconference from the Floyd County Jail. A third man, Desmond Lavonta Brown, is also charged with the murders of Vanita Nicole Richardson and Truvenia Clarece Campbell but was not in court on Thursday. The two women’s bodies were found off the bypass on May 13.
Prosecutors argued the crimes themselves warrant the men being held in jail until trial. “The defendant is charged with the horrific murder of two females from this community,” Rome Circuit Assistant District Attorney Emily Johnson said.
In addition, both men have previous convictions for aggravated assault and were both on bond for other recently committed crimes, she said. Summerville attorney Steven Miller brought Watts’ mother to testify that he would stay out of trouble if released on bond and would live at her apartment off Chateau Drive.
She was accompanied by his sisters and told the court that Watts has four children. “Twenty-two, 17, 7 and 5 — and a grandbaby on the way,” she said.
“Grandbaby?” Watts exclaimed over the videoconference line, looking up tearfully. “Oh my god.”
Johnson said Watts has a violent past, including a conviction for shooting up a home in 2003 as a retaliatory measure. He was also out on bond for a case in which he is accused of attacking a woman with children present in the home.
Prosecutors said Pullen had been transient and banned from several businesses on or near Martha Berry Highway for acting violently or erratically.
“He’s a frequenter of the motels there on Martha Berry,” Johnson told the court, adding that, five days after the killings occurred, Pullen was the prime suspect in an incident she characterized as similar to a “home invasion” in that area.
“The two victims’ families do not want them out,” Johnson told Superior Court Judge Jack Niedrach.
In an earlier hearing, an 18-year-old Aragon man arrested July 17 in relation to the investigation was granted a $5,000 bond on charges of theft by receiving stolen property.
Alec Heath Brogdon is not allowed access to firearms, must wear an ankle monitor and may only leave his home for work. He is charged with selling a stolen Glock .380 caliber pistol to Watts.
The pistol had been stolen in Pickens County days before the sale and was a Georgia State Patrol back-up weapon, Johnson said.
Brogdon is not charged with participating in the homicides and sold the pistol to Watts after the killings had occurred, his attorney Chris Twyman told the court.
“There’s no dispute whatsoever that Mr. Brogdon is not involved in any way with the double homicide,” Twyman said.
Brogdon has a hold from Polk County on a charge of making false statements to a GBI investigator. Johnson said he first told the investigator he hadn’t sold any guns to Desmond Brown but later said he had.