DA seeking death penalty in Cobb country club slayings

Bryan Rhoden accused of killing 3 people at golf course

Cobb County’s district attorney plans to pursue the death penalty against an aspiring rapper accused of fatally shooting three men last summer at a bustling golf course.

Bryan Anthony Rhoden faces three counts of murder and a host of other charges in the July 3, 2021, slayings at Pinetree Country Club near Kennesaw. Two men were found tied up and shot in the back of a pickup truck on the 10th hole, and the course’s beloved golf director was killed when he went to investigate, authorities said.

On May 26, Cobb DA Flynn Broady’s office notified the court clerk of its intent to seek the death penalty against Rhoden, filings show. The judge assigned to the trial will be randomly selected Wednesday morning.

All active superior court judges will be assigned a number based on their seniority. Those numbers will then be placed on balls and put inside a cage. Whichever number is drawn determines which judge gets the case.

“The clerk of chief deputy shall spin the cage for approximately 15 seconds to ensure that they are shuffled prior to randomly drawing a single ball from the cage for the assignment,” according to a court filing outlining the plans.

Any judge already assigned to a death penalty case is exempt from Wednesday’s random drawing, however. In Cobb, Superior Court Judge Kellie Hill is already presiding over another death penalty case in which Dafareya Jamal Hunter is accused of raping and killing his 14-year-old stepdaughter in 2016 before burning the house in an attempt to hide his crime.

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Rhoden took to Instagram for the first time in months Tuesday morning, decrying what he called “erroneous” allegations against him and saying news reports about the killings “could not be further from reality.”

“In my absence, I ask that the people keep an open mind as to what led to the unfortunate turn of events and who is responsible,” the post said.

The account had not been updated since October. Past messages included video releases, clips of performances and recording updates.

Rhoden has been in the Cobb County jail since his July 2021 arrest. It wasn’t immediately clear if he has access to a mobile device or computer or if someone made the post on his behalf.

The slayings of the three men, including Pinetree’s golf pro, rattled the Cobb County community last summer.

Rhoden is accused of killing Paul Pierson, 76, and Henry Valdez, 46, both of whom were found tied up and shot in the back of a Dodge pickup truck on the 10th hole of the golf course.

The third victim, golf director Gene Siller, was fatally shot after going onto the course to find out why the truck had driven onto the fairway and gotten stuck near a sand trap, investigators said.

Cobb police have released few details about a possible motive in the case, but said Siller was killed “because he witnessed an active crime taking place.” The 46-year-old had a wife and two young sons.

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Rhoden was recently re-indicted along with two of his alleged accomplices, Justin Caleb Pruitt and Taylor Nicole Cameron.

Rhoden faces 17 charges, including three counts of malice murder, seven counts of felony murder, two counts of kidnapping with bodily injury, three counts of aggravated assault and one count each of possession of a firearm during the commission of a felony and tampering with evidence, court records show.

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Pruitt’s warrant alleges he acted as a “co-conspirator and accomplice” in helping bind Pierson and Valdez with duct tape and zip ties at a building along Jonesboro Road in Clayton County. He is also accused of helping transport the men some 41 miles to the golf course, where investigators say Pierson and Valdez were killed by Rhoden.

Pruitt faces two counts of felony murder and two counts of kidnapping with bodily injury, court records show.

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After running from the scene, Rhoden allegedly had Cameron drive to the golf course to take the gun, authorities said. She was recently indicted on one count of criminal attempt to commit tampering with evidence.

“While we have not filed written notice yet, it is our intent to seek the death penalty,” Broady said Tuesday afternoon.

It’s the first time Broady has sought the death penalty since becoming district attorney and the first death penalty case in Cobb since former DA Vic Reynolds announced plans to seek the ultimate punishment against Hunter.

Rhoden’s attorney could not immediately be reached for comment.