Prosecutors: Double murder was a "set up drug rip-off"

By Lindsey Connell - bio | email | Twitter

COLUMBUS, GA (WTVM) - A Columbus man is on trial in what is the final chapter in a double murder case WTVM has been following since it broke in 2008.

The state says Rodney Pugh played a hand in a robbery that ended with the murder of Jarvis Sanks and Ronald Justin Coleman.

It happened back in December of 2008 at a home near the corner of Lansing Avenue and Forrest Road in a section of the city known as "The Heights."

In opening statements for Pugh's murder trial Monday, prosecutors say he and another man, Dezmond Cannon, set up a drug deal at the alleged drug house for six pounds of marijuana and planned to rob the suppliers.

Assistant District Attorney Doug Breault says Pugh lured the victims inside as Cannon, armed with an SKS assault rifle, waited in the backyard, ambushed both men and shot them- hitting Coleman in the chest and Sanks in the hip.

Dezmond Cannon pled guilty in January and is serving 27 years in prison for his involvement in the case.

After the shootings, the State says Pugh and Coleman got away and even divided up the stolen drugs, making Pugh a party to the deadly crime from start to finish, according to prosecutors.

But Pugh's attorney paints a different picture. Tim Flournoy says his client simply went to the scene to buy drugs from Jarvis Sanks, his alleged supplier and did not have anything to do with the murders, pinning it all on Dezmond Cannon.

Pugh's attorney says he was inside when he heard the fatal gunshots and in shock, panicked and ran away, only to voluntarily turn himself in to police a short time after the shootings.

Rodney Pugh's trial continues Tuesday morning at the Government Center in Muscogee County Superior Court Judge Frank Jordan's courtroom.

The judge is allowing only our cameras inside.

Coverage you can count on will continue to bring you the latest.

©2010 WTVM. All rights reserved.