Man convicted of guards’ murders kills himself in prison, officials say

Just 10 days after being sentenced to death for the 2017 murders of two corrections officers, a Georgia prisoner died of an apparent suicide, authorities said.

State prison officials confirmed Sunday evening that Ricky Dubose was found unresponsive in his cell at the Georgia Diagnostic and Classification Prison in Jackson, where the state houses its death-sentenced prisoners.

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Few details were released, but the Georgia Department of Corrections said the 29-year-old was discovered by guards about 4:45 p.m. Life-saving measures were performed but Dubose was pronounced dead by the coroner more than an hour later.

The GDC and the GBI are investigating the in-custody death, which is standard procedure, officials said.

Dubose was convicted earlier this month of felony and malice murder in the June 2017 shootings of corrections officers Curtis Billue and Christopher Monica on a transport bus in Putnam County. He and fellow prisoner Donnie Russell Rowe escaped the bus after the killings, prompting a multistate manhunt that ended with the men’s capture in Tennessee.

Combined ShapeCaption
Donnie Russell Rowe (left) and Ricky Dubose spent three days on the run before they were captured.

Credit: George Mathis

Donnie Russell Rowe (left) and Ricky Dubose spent three days on the run before they were captured.

Credit: George Mathis

Combined ShapeCaption
Donnie Russell Rowe (left) and Ricky Dubose spent three days on the run before they were captured.

Credit: George Mathis

Credit: George Mathis

Rowe also faced the death penalty but was sentenced to life without parole last year after jurors were unable to reach a unanimous decision during his sentencing. Given the publicity surrounding the guards’ killings, a jury was brought in from coastal Glynn County for Dubose’s murder trial.

Officials said Dubose used a gun belonging to one of the guards to shoot them before escaping from the prison bus with Rowe.

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The bus was headed from Baldwin State Prison in Milledgeville to the high-security Department of Corrections facility near Jackson. There were 33 prisoners on board at the time, authorities said.

Dubose shot the corrections officers in the head after he and Rowe slipped out of their handcuffs and went through an unlocked gate near the front of the bus. Billue was driving at the time and Monica was asleep, Dubose later said.

He had been serving a 20-year sentence for a 2015 armed robbery and assault conviction in Elbert County.

In a recorded interview, he told investigators the attack wasn’t planned and that the other escapee didn’t want to kill anyone. The gate inside the bus separating the officers from the prisoners had been left unlocked, and the guards failed to double lock the men’s handcuffs.

“It’s just something that happened spur of the moment,” Dubose said of the escape.

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The two men fled the scene after carjacking the driver of a green Honda that pulled up behind the idling bus.

They were captured days later in Tennessee after leading police on a 10-mile car chase that ended in a wreck and gunshots, though no one was injured. They then fled into the woods and ended up in a homeowner’s yard, authorities said.

Tennessee officials credited two neighbors for holding Dubose and Rowe at gunpoint until they arrived. The pair, who had been cellmates at Baldwin State Prison, still had the slain officers’ guns with them when they were arrested, officials said.

Billue, 58, of Milledgeville, had been with the Department of Corrections since July 2007. Monica, 42, also of Milledgeville, had been with the department since October 2009.

Putnam County Sheriff Howard Sills said he learned of the apparent suicide from prison officials Sunday afternoon. The longtime lawman closely followed the trial and said he personally drove Dubose to the prison in Jackson after his May 16 sentencing.