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Georgia Man Who Killed Prison Guards During Escape Dies Via Suicide After Death Sentence

Officials say Ricky Dubose died in an apparent suicide just 10 days after he was sentenced to death. He had been convicted of killing corrections officers Sgt. Christopher Monica and Sgt. Curtis Billue while escaping a prison transport bus in 2017. 

By Jax Miller
A police handout of Ricky Dubose

A Georgia man has allegedly taken his own life just days after being sentenced to death for the murders of two correctional officers during a 2017 prison escape.

Ricky Dubose, 29, was found unresponsive in his cell late on Sunday afternoon at the Georgia Diagnostic and Classification Prison in Jackson, according to the Georgia Department of Corrections. After attempts to resuscitate him failed, Dubose was pronounced dead about an hour later.

Dubose’s death came just 10 days after he was sentenced to death for the fatal shootings of Sgt. Christopher Monica, 42, and Sgt. Curtis Billue, 58, according to Fox Atlanta affiliate WAGA-TV. His execution was reportedly scheduled to take place sometime between July 18 and July 25 of this year.

“He committed suicide,” Putnam County Sheriff Howard Sills told The Union-Recorder on Sunday. “The suicide could be done about as quick as it took for him to murder Billue and Monica. It doesn’t take long to do it.”

Dubose and co-conspirator Donnie Rowe were accused of overpowering the two guards on a bus transporting 33 prisoners near Eatonton, Georgia — about 75 miles southeast of Atlanta — on June 13, 2017. As reported by WAGA-TV, the escape  was captured on bus surveillance video, including when Monica and Billie were shot to death.

According to ABC News, the men managed to slip from their handcuffs after which Dubose shot and killed the guards. At the time of the murders, Dubose was serving a 20-year sentence for a 2015 armed robbery and assault, while Rowe was serving a life sentence for armed robbery, according to WAGA-TV.

After murdering the correctional officers, Dubose and Rowe stopped a passing motorist and stole his car at gunpoint, according to CBS Macon affiliate WMAZ. The driver was unharmed.

The Putnam County sheriff reported that Dubose and Rowe thereafter broke into a Morgan County home, taking food and clothes from the residence. The car stolen at the scene of the escape was found the next day but, by then, the men had stolen a second vehicle.

The men then allegedly broke into a Shelbyville, Tennessee, home on June 15, 2017, tied up a couple, ate their beef stew and took their valuables, according to WMAZ.  After also stealing the couple’s Jeep, Dubose and Rowe led authorities on a high-speed chase, followed by a foot chase, near Murfreesboro, Tennessee.

The pursuit ended when homeowner Patrick Hale held the pair at gunpoint near his home and waited for authorities to arrive.

“At that point, I realized I had two ex-cons wanted for murder who just shot at law enforcement and nothing to lose,” said Hale, according to The Tennessean. “And for some reason, they started to surrender and lay down on their stomachs on my concrete driveway.”

“If that doesn’t make you believe in Jesus Christ, I don’t know what will,” Hale said.

Rutherford County officials arrived moments later.

Dubose and Rowe were tried separately. Rowe was found guilty of murder for Monica and Billue’s deaths in September 2021. He was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole after jurors couldn’t agree on whether or not he deserved the death penalty.

Dubose was convicted on charges of felony and malice murder on June 13, according to WLTX. Jurors were tasked with deciding whether Dubose should be sentenced to life or death.

Dubose’s attorney, Gabrielle Amber Pittman, argued during her opening statements that her client should not be executed for his crimes, citing his intellectual disability. Per WMAZ, the defense tried supporting their argument by presenting that Dubose was born with his umbilical cord wrapped around his neck and that his mother did not receive adequate prenatal care during her pregnancy. They also claimed that Dubose was developmentally delayed, partly because his mother allegedly smoked when pregnant with him.

Despite their arguments, Dubose was sentenced to death three days after being found guilty.

The Georgia Department of Corrections is investigating Dubose’s death in conjunction with the Georgia Bureau of Investigation, as is standard procedure.

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