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Death Penalty Sought for Ronnie Adrian Jay Towns in 2015 GA Murder of Elrey Bud Runion and June Runion
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Thread: Death Penalty Sought for Ronnie Adrian Jay Towns in 2015 GA Murder of Elrey Bud Runion and June Runion

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    Death Penalty Sought for Ronnie Adrian Jay Towns in 2015 GA Murder of Elrey Bud Runion and June Runion


    Elrey “Bud” Runion, 69, and June Runion, 66



    Ronnie Adrian “Jay” Towns


    Prosecutors seek death penalty for alleged killer of Marietta couple

    By Daniel Funke
    The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

    The man accused of killing a Marietta couple in January during a Craigslist transaction may face the death penalty, if convicted.

    The Macon Telegraph reports prosecutors will seek capital punishment for Ronnie Adrian “Jay” Towns, 28, for his alleged involvement in the deaths of June Runion, 66, and her husband, Elrey “Bud” Runion, 69, who were robbed and killed after posting an ad on Craisglist seeking to buy a vintage Ford Mustang.

    The Runions left their Cobb County home Jan. 22 to drive to McRae in southeast Georgia and look at the car. But the vehicle didn’t exist, authorities said.

    After the Runions were missing for four days, police used cellphone records to locate the couple. They were found shot in the head and hidden along a dirt road Jan. 26 in Telfair County, near where Towns’ parents live.

    Cellphone records indicated that Towns was the last person to talk to the Runions before their deaths, authorities said.

    Towns was arrested
    the same day authorities found the couple’s bodies after parts of his account didn’t match up in interviews with detectives. Authorities also found the couple’s 2003 GMC Envoy sunk in a pond not far from where the bodies were located.

    According to the Telegraph, prosecutors said Towns was fired from his job at a tree-removal company in January and, therefore, needed money. He allegedly used Craigslist to lure buyers like the Runions into entering into false transactions in order to rob them.

    After the autopsy results were released Jan. 27, Towns was charged with malice murder and armed robbery. He was denied bond the same day.

    Towns’ arraignment, which was previously scheduled for June 25, will now be pushed back until after the first proceeding of the death penalty prosecution, according to the Telegraph.

    http://www.ajc.com/news/news/crime-l...killer-/nmjJB/
    "I realize this may sound harsh, but as a father and former lawman, I really don't care if it's by lethal injection, by the electric chair, firing squad, hanging, the guillotine or being fed to the lions."
    - Oklahoma Rep. Mike Christian

    "There are some people who just do not deserve to live,"
    - Rev. Richard Hawke

    "Men have called me mad; but the question is not yet settled, whether madness is or is not the loftiest intelligence"
    - Edgar Allan Poe

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    One year later: The Runions Murder

    By Jobie M. Peeples
    13WMAZ News

    One year ago this week was the last time anyone saw Bud and June Runion alive.

    The case shocked Central Georgia and the nation.

    "It was probably one of the hardest days in my career when the bodies were found," Telfair County Sheriff Chris Steverson said.

    Steverson said he recalls the day his team discovered that Bud and June Runion had been murdered.

    In January 2015, the Marietta couple traveled to Telfair County, planning to purchase a car from a Craigslist ad. When they didn't return home, the Runions' daughters filed a missing person's report. Then Telfair County deputies and other law officials began the search to locate the pair.

    The Runions' car was found in a lake, and their bodies were discovered off a dirt road in a rural part of Telfair County. Steverson said his team learned a lot from this case.

    "If it has taught myself one thing, it is to focus your resources on the small crimes, when the small thefts, when they occur," he said. "And hopefully we can prevent criminals from graduating to higher levels, and as in this case, we had a murder."

    Steverson said the Telfair County community came to feel like the Runions were a part of their family.

    "It's emotional for me now. Because you know, those were some very dear people," he said. "And I don't think you could've searched the state of Georgia and found a couple who were held in higher regards than the Runions."

    Telfair County resident, Jay Towns, was charged for the double murder and is currently awaiting trial. The Runion family declined to comment.

    http://www.13wmaz.com/story/news/loc...rder/79198794/
    "I realize this may sound harsh, but as a father and former lawman, I really don't care if it's by lethal injection, by the electric chair, firing squad, hanging, the guillotine or being fed to the lions."
    - Oklahoma Rep. Mike Christian

    "There are some people who just do not deserve to live,"
    - Rev. Richard Hawke

    "Men have called me mad; but the question is not yet settled, whether madness is or is not the loftiest intelligence"
    - Edgar Allan Poe

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    ‘Not guilty,’ says accused gunman in Craigslist killings that could lead to death row

    By Joe Kovac Jr.
    The Telegraph

    MCRAE-HELENA - The accused double killer in a so-called Craigslist murder case that attracted worldwide news coverage more than two years ago pleaded not guilty here on Wednesday.

    Ronnie Adrian “Jay” Towns’ pleading, which was not unexpected and is the norm in capital cases, comes as the death penalty case against him begins its early steps toward trial, possibly sometime next year.

    Towns, who turned 30 last fall, was arrested in late January 2015 in the days after authorities say Marietta retirees June Runion, 66, and her husband, Elrey “Bud” Runion, 69, were robbed and shot to death after driving to Telfair County to see someone about buying a vintage car.

    Bud Runion had posted a Craigslist ad seeking a 1966 Ford Mustang, and someone in Telfair, according to investigators, is thought to have been in touch with him and claimed to have such an automobile.

    The Runions had apparently gone to meet the supposed seller near the Ocmulgee River community of Jacksonville, where Towns was raised.

    The bodies of the slain couple were found four days later on Jan. 26, 2015, the day Towns was jailed.

    The Runions had been shot in the head, their bodies hidden along a dirt road near the farm where Towns’ parents live. The property lies east of U.S. 441 between Abbeville and Hazlehurst, roughly 75 miles southeast of Macon.

    The day Towns was arrested, the Runions’ 2003 GMC Envoy was found sunk in a pond not far from their bodies.

    Nearly two years have passed since prosecutors announced their intention to seek the death penalty for Towns.

    In June 2015, upon filing their notice, they cited aggravating circumstances in the case, factors that the state must prove for Towns to be executed — among them, that Towns stole from the couple when he allegedly killed them.

    At a hearing Wednesday morning in Telfair Superior Court, Judge Sarah Wall read the charges that Towns faces and asked how he pleaded.

    “Not guilty,” said Towns, who had on a black dress shirt.

    His mother and father were seated a few rows behind him and, upon entering the courtroom, he nodded their way.

    The judge set a Sept. 1 deadline for pretrial motions, but there is no timeline as yet for when the case could go to trial.

    There was no mention of any evidence Wednesday or particulars of how or why the Runions were killed.

    Even so, at this point it appears the case may hinge on cellphone records.

    The most that has been divulged about such evidence came two years ago this month at a bond hearing for Towns.

    At that hearing in April 2015, an assistant district attorney said Towns, who had been fired from his job with a tree-removal service in the days before the Runions were slain, was desperate for cash.

    The prosecutor said Towns bought a throw-away or “burner” cellphone and began contacting people interested in buying cars and other merchandise in online marketplaces, Craigslist among them.

    The prosecutor added that the Runions were in contact with Towns — or at least someone who was using a phone that Towns had recently purchased — in the days before the couple was slain.

    “The cellphone that was used to communicate with the Runions was a TracFone. ... Mr. Jay Towns had a personal cellphone, but instead decided to buy this second telephone to contact the Runions,” the prosecutor, Joshua Powell, said at that hearing.

    On Wednesday, the Telfair district attorney’s office handed Towns’ defense team a copy of some of the evidence that has been collected in the case.

    “Today we were given a one-terabyte hard drive with 100 gigabytes of data on it, and so now the real work starts,” Franklin J. Hogue, one of Towns’ lawyers, told reporters after the hearing.

    When a reporter for an Atlanta television station asked Hogue what Towns has been saying about the case, Hogue replied, “That he’s not guilty.”

    “And why does he say that?” the reporter inquired.

    “Because he’s not guilty,” Hogue said.

    “Does he give you reasoning?”

    “Well,” Hogue said with half a chuckle, “no. Uh, if he did, I wouldn’t be talking about that with you. But, ‘not guilty’ is all he needs to say.”

    http://www.macon.com/news/local/crim...145442884.html


    "I realize this may sound harsh, but as a father and former lawman, I really don't care if it's by lethal injection, by the electric chair, firing squad, hanging, the guillotine or being fed to the lions."
    - Oklahoma Rep. Mike Christian

    "There are some people who just do not deserve to live,"
    - Rev. Richard Hawke

    "Men have called me mad; but the question is not yet settled, whether madness is or is not the loftiest intelligence"
    - Edgar Allan Poe

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    'Far from over': Telfair County 'Craigslist killer' heading to Georgia's highest court

    By Fox 31 News Staff

    The case of the man known as Telfair County's "Craigslist killer" is heading to Georgia's highest court.

    Ronnie Adrian "Jay" Towns was indicted on multiple charges in the killings of Bud and June Runion, who were looking to buy a 1966 Ford Mustang they found on Craigslist. The Runions drove from Marietta to McRae, where their car was later found submerged in a lake and their bodies were discovered nearby. Autopsy results from the Georgia Bureau of Investigation showed that both had been shot in the head.

    Towns' case went to Telfair County Superior Court in March 2015 where, facing the death penalty, Towns pleaded not guilty to two counts of malice murder, four counts of felony murder, and two counts of armed robbery. He was indicted on those counts.

    When only two out of those four accepted, two others volunteered, a brief for Towns says. This "non-random selection of four individuals from the trial jury list, compounded by the self-selection of two of those individuals based on their willingness to serve, destroyed the randomness of the selection process," for Towns' trial, his attorneys say.

    That "randomness requirement" is laid out in Georgia state law, the brief says.

    At the 2017 trial, Thomas testified that she identified four people "she could contact on short notice who may be able to serve." Thomas also testified that she picked "specific individuals that she personally knew, that she could readily contact, and that she believed would be readily available."

    This is where Towns' attorneys argue the clerk randomly choose some of the grand jurors, although the state argues in its own brief that since a computer randomly chose names for the jury pool as a whole, then the clerk didn't personally select the names herself.

    The state also argues that the court's reason for quashing Towns' pending indictment in 2017 was erroneous, since his indictment was rejected based on the court's conclusion that the grand jury selection in 2015 wasn't randomized.

    Attorneys for Towns told WGXA that they do expect the Supreme Court to uphold the trial court's dismissal of Towns' indictment from 2017. If that happens, then Telfair County District Attorney Tim Vaughn would be able to move forward for a re-indictment with a new grand jury, which Towns' attorneys say they'd expect him to do.

    Either way, Towns' attorneys say "The case is far from over."

    When only two out of those four accepted, two others volunteered, a brief for Towns says. This "non-random selection of four individuals from the trial jury list, compounded by the self-selection of two of those individuals based on their willingness to serve, destroyed the randomness of the selection process," for Towns' trial, his attorneys say.

    That "randomness requirement" is laid out in Georgia state law, the brief says.

    At the 2017 trial, Thomas testified that she identified four people "she could contact on short notice who may be able to serve." Thomas also testified that she picked "specific individuals that she personally knew, that she could readily contact, and that she believed would be readily available."

    This is where Towns' attorneys argue the clerk randomly choose some of the grand jurors, although the state argues in its own brief that since a computer randomly chose names for the jury pool as a whole, then the clerk didn't personally select the names herself.

    The state also argues that the court's reason for quashing Towns' pending indictment in 2017 was erroneous, since his indictment was rejected based on the court's conclusion that the grand jury selection in 2015 wasn't randomized.

    Attorneys for Towns told WGXA that they do expect the Supreme Court to uphold the trial court's dismissal of Towns' indictment from 2017. If that happens, then Telfair County District Attorney Tim Vaughn would be able to move forward for a re-indictment with a new grand jury, which Towns' attorneys say they'd expect him to do.

    Either way, Towns' attorneys say "The case is far from over."

    https://wfxl.com/news/local/far-from...urt-04-13-2019
    "I realize this may sound harsh, but as a father and former lawman, I really don't care if it's by lethal injection, by the electric chair, firing squad, hanging, the guillotine or being fed to the lions."
    - Oklahoma Rep. Mike Christian

    "There are some people who just do not deserve to live,"
    - Rev. Richard Hawke

    "Men have called me mad; but the question is not yet settled, whether madness is or is not the loftiest intelligence"
    - Edgar Allan Poe

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    Court upholds dismissal of indictment in couple's killing

    By Associated Press

    ATLANTA The Georgia Supreme Court on Monday upheld the dismissal of a murder indictment against a man accused of killing a couple who answered his Craigslist ad because some jurors in the case were not selected randomly.

    Ronnie Adrian "Jay" Towns was indicted on charges including murder in the January 2015 killings of Elrey "Bud" Runion and his wife, June. Prosecutors allege Towns lured the couple to rural McRae, about 80 miles (130 kilometers) southeast of Macon, from their home in Marietta, an Atlanta suburb, promising a replica of a 1966 Mustang convertible after they connected through the online ad.

    Investigators said at the time that the bodies were found that there was no evidence that Towns owned the kind of car Bud Runion was seeking.

    Towns was indicted on charges including malice murder, felony murder and armed robbery. Prosecutors had announced they would seek the death penalty.

    Two years after the indictment was obtained, Towns' lawyer filed a motion to dismiss it, arguing some of the grand jurors hadn't been selected randomly as required by law.

    The trial court dismissed the indictment, and the state appealed. A divided high court upheld the dismissal.

    Oconee Judicial Circuit District Attorney Tim Vaughn said Monday that he plans to seek a new indictment in the case.

    Fifty prospective jurors were summoned in March 2015 to serve on the grand jury, but fewer than 16 appeared on time and ready to serve, the opinion says. Sixteen jurors are needed for a grand jury, so the presiding judge told the sheriff to try to find the jurors who had failed to appear. The judge also instructed the court clerk to supplement the number of prospective grand jurors with people who had been summoned to serve on a trial jury.

    The clerk and her deputy examined the list of 150 prospective jurors who had been summoned to appear the next day to serve as trial jurors, the opinion says. Ultimately, two of those jurors ended up serving on the grand jury that indicted Towns.

    The clerk testified at a hearing last year that she based her selections on her assessment on whether she already had information needed to quickly contact the prospective jurors and whether they would be able to report immediately.

    Though the people summoned for service as trial jurors were selected at random from the master jury list, the clerk's selection of two jurors was based on her personal knowledge of their circumstances and her ability to contact them, which means the selections weren't random as the law requires, Justice Keith Blackwell wrote in the majority opinion.

    "A grand jury is randomly selected only to the extent that all of its members were randomly selected," Blackwell wrote. "Even an occasional, limited, and well-intentioned violation of the randomness requirement in the statute governing the summoning of additional grand jurors undercuts a key feature of the modern scheme for selecting juries."

    Justice John Ellington, in a dissent joined by Justice Michael Boggs, wrote that he agrees that the two grand jurors were not chosen at random "as that word is defined in the dictionary." But he said that by using her educated guesses about the potential jurors to call people who would be likely to come quickly so the grand jury could get to work, the clerk "substantially complied with the law."

    "Dismissing the indictment based on this irregularity troubles me," Ellington wrote, adding that dismissal of an indictment is an "extreme sanction" that should be used sparingly to remedy unlawful government conduct.

    http://www.startribune.com/court-uph...ing/563547632/
    "I realize this may sound harsh, but as a father and former lawman, I really don't care if it's by lethal injection, by the electric chair, firing squad, hanging, the guillotine or being fed to the lions."
    - Oklahoma Rep. Mike Christian

    "There are some people who just do not deserve to live,"
    - Rev. Richard Hawke

    "Men have called me mad; but the question is not yet settled, whether madness is or is not the loftiest intelligence"
    - Edgar Allan Poe

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