A Fulton County judge granted $235,000 bonds Tuesday to two men implicated in what police have called a murder-for-hire plot.
Prosecutor Michael Sprinkel, looking glum, reiterated his opposition to bond for Andre Jason Pugh, known to strip club patrons as “DJ Awesome,” and his lifelong friend Adrian Harley. They are accused of killing Pugh’s wife.
The ruling came the day after an East Point police detective outlined the case against the men.
Magistrate Karen Woodson did not disclose publicly her reasons for the bond, which she granted after meeting privately with Sprinkel and the defense attorneys. The bond total encompasses several related charges.
“The court has considered the arguments presented and the statements,” Woodson announced Tuesday in the courtroom, which the day before had been packed with family members interested in the case for the evidence hearing.
Pugh and Harley are charged with murder, conspiracy to commit murder and conspiracy to commit burglary in the Nov. 23 shooting death of Pugh’s wife, Tiffany Jackson-Pugh. Police found the 30-year-old East Point woman in the couple’s Lake Haven Way home. She had been shot twice, once in the torso and once through the eye.
Jackson-Pugh’s family has set up a website to raise money for her and Pugh’s 2-year-old son and 7-year-old daughter, http://www.gofundme.com/tiffanyjacksonpugh.
Lawyers for Pugh and Harley argued that the case against their clients is weak because it is based largely on circumstantial evidence: cellphone calls purporting to put them in the vicinity of the shooting, and a surveillance video showing a car similar to Harley’s Infinity pulling in front of the victim’s home just before a burglar alarm sounded and speeding away shortly afterwards. Harley is the accused shooter.
No eyewitness or forensic evidence — such as fingerprints or ballistics — so far ties either man to the crime, lawyers said. For motive, the prosecution has said Jackson-Pugh planned to divorce her husband, but defense lawyers noted there was no life insurance policy and the couple had a history of marital trouble from which they previously had reconciled.
“Even in a heinous case, there ought to be evidence,” argued Gary Spencer, attorney for Harley, to the judge. “Circumstantial evidence is supposed to rule out the other reasonable possibilities. … Confusion does not equal probable cause.”
Neither man has a history of violence or significant criminal behavior. Harley has an open DUI case from this year and Pugh had two misdemeanor theft convictions more than a decade ago. Both men have been gainfully employed, according to testimony.
Sprinkel, however, argued both men are flight risks because of the severe punishment both face if convicted of murder; they face a possibility of life in prison or potentially the death penalty if the district attorney decides to pursue that route.
“Now that he is aware of the evidence against him, we think that is extra motivation to flee,” Sprinkel told the judge.
Harley has family living in England, whom he visits, and Pugh has vacationed outside the United States, Sprinkel said.
In addition to bond, Woodson ordered both men to surrender their passports, wear ankle monitoring devices and be under a 24-hour curfew except for work.
More evidence in the case may be forthcoming. The GBI crime lab has not yet completed forensic tests to see if the pistol seized from Harley matches bullets and shell casings found at the crime scene, Detective Allyn Glover testified.
Glover and his fellow detectives focused on Pugh and Harley without eliminating other potential suspects in part because they didn’t like Pugh’s responses to his wife’s death, said Albert Mitchell, attorney for Pugh.
Pugh, for instance, told police he did not approach his wife’s body when he saw it in the bed, nor did he remove the children from the house despite the possibility there was still an armed gunman inside.
“That bothers you, doesn’t’ it?” Mitchell asked Glover about Pugh failing to check his wife for signs of life.
“From an investigative point … it is interesting,” Glover said.
Glover also acknowledged he couldn’t reconcile Pugh leaving his children in the house.
“Not if there were gunmen in the home,” he said.
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