Man charged in double murder case takes plea deal

By Lindsey Connell - bio | email | Twitter

COLUMBUS, GA (WTVM) – Family members of Jarvis Sanks and Ronald Justin Coleman lashed out at Rodney Pugh Wednesday as he accepted a plea agreement in the double murder case.

The 23-year-old pled guilty to a reduced count of robbery for his part in the deadly 2008 shootings in Columbus.

Prosecutors say 30-year-old Sanks and 30-year-old Ronald Justin Coleman were shot with an SKS assault rifle during a robbery gone wrong at an alleged drug on Lansing Avenue and Forrest Road back in 2008.

Assistant District Attorney Doug Breault told the judge Pugh was party to the murders even if he didn't pull the trigger because he helped plan the deadly drug robbery.

Pugh's attorney says codefendant Dezmond Cannon was the sole shooter and is already serving 27 years for the crimes.

On the stand Tuesday, the medical examiner revealed just how Sanks and Coleman were killed. Sanks, who prosecutors say was bending over when he was shot, was hit in the hip. The doctor says the bullet went out through his chest, hitting his aorta, a vital artery and other vital organs.

Coleman, he says, was shot in the center of his chest, a thru and thru shot which he survived for eleven more days in the hospital before passing away due to complications.

The state says everything revolved around $6000 worth of marijuana that Pugh and Cannon wanted to steal.

Doug Breault this statement to WTVM today following the guilty plea:

"We're satisfied with the guilty plea. The evidence in this case was subject to dispute. Several of the state's witnesses have felony convictions and had made inconsistent statements... In view of that and the fact that the shooter has already been convicted, we believe the guilty plea and sentence was appropriate."

"I think my client made an informed decision and it was in his best interest to enter a plea to the reduced charge to a simple, plain robbery. Based on the recommendation, I believe it was in his best interest," said Pugh's attorney, Tim Flournoy.

Muscogee County Superior Court Judge Frank Jordan called the murders a "tragic event" and told Pugh he must serve 12 years behind bars as punishment, the maximum the law allows for robbery.

"With the plea the defendant was allowed to take, I just don't feel that it was that it was enough time. Justin was 30 years old when he was murdered and this individual got 12 years. I do not feel that justice has been served. I understand the reasoning behind it but 12 years of his life just doesn't justify what happened," said Diometra Chandler Frierson, Ronald Justin Coleman's sister.

Rodney Pugh was sentenced to 20 years on his reduced robbery charge, 12 of which he will serve in a state penitentiary.

His other charges, including murder and aggravated assault, were dropped as a result of his plea deal.

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