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Brunswick Man Enters Plea in 2023 Shooting at Retreat Plaza on St. Simons Island State v. Ricky Ricardo Easterling

Brunswick Man Enters Plea in 2023 Shooting at Retreat Plaza on St. Simons Island
State v. Ricky Ricardo Easterling

July 9, 2024

District Attorney Keith Higgins announces that Ricky Ricardo Easterling, 52, of Brunswick, GA, entered a negotiated guilty plea in Glynn County Superior Court on July 1, 2024, to Malice Murder, two counts of Felony Murder and two counts of Possession of a Firearm by a Convicted Felon.

The facts of the case show that this homicide occurred May 20, 2023, around 0100 am near Nazzaro’s restaurant at Retreat Village on St. Simons Island. Glynn County Police Department (GCPD) officers responded following reports of gunshots and one individual having been shot. Upon arrival, an officer observed a vehicle on the east side around the back of Nazzaro’s. The victim, Dawn Newbauer, 53, of Brunswick, was found deceased. She was laying on her back across the trunk and rear windshield of her vehicle and had sustained two gunshot wounds to her head. Video footage from an adjacent business captured a suspect vehicle, a Tan Ford Sport Trac leave through the back alley roughly 45 seconds after the shots were fired. That same vehicle was captured going the wrong way in the traffic circle leaving the island on dash camera footage of a responding officer as well. The suspect vehicle was pulled over a short time later by Brunswick Police for a traffic violation with the driver and sole occupant being the defendant, Ricky Ricardo Easterling. The vehicle was towed, and the defendant cited and released. Unbeknownst at the time, this was the same vehicle and the same suspect involved in the homicide.

After a “be on the lookout” (BOLO) was sent out for the suspect vehicle, GCPD Investigators were contacted by Brunswick Police and learned that the same vehicle had been stopped by Brunswick Police earlier and tracked the vehicle to the Concord Suites where it had been towed. Investigators reviewed footage from the Concorde Suites and observed that the defendant walked into his room carrying 2 bags which he got from his truck before it was towed. A few minutes later the defendant walks out of the hotel room and puts the bags in his girlfriend’s vehicle’s trunk. Search warrants were obtained, and the vehicle was searched. The bag placed in the trunk by the defendant contained two firearms, a shotgun and a handgun.

The investigation revealed that the defendant and victim had been previously involved in an intimate relationship with each other. The defendant participated in a custodial interview with GCPD. The defendant’s statement matched the timeline and placed him at the scene, but he denied any involvement in the murder. The defendant stated that he only spoke to the victim in the parking lot while he was in his vehicle; however, the defendant’s fingerprints were found inside the victim’s vehicle.

Additionally, the handgun collected from the defendant’s girlfriend’s vehicle, which the defendant had placed there, was confirmed by the GBI as the same firearm that was used to kill Dawn Newbauer, as the shell casings collected at the scene were all a match to that handgun.

On July 01, 2024, Ricky Ricardo Easterling pled guilty in Glynn County Superior Court before the Honorable Chief Judge Stephen G. Scarlett, Sr. to Malice Murder, two counts of Felony Murder and two counts of Possession of a Firearm by a Convicted Felon and received a sentence of Life with the possibility of parole as part of a negotiated plea resolution.

This case was prosecuted for the State by Assistant District Attorney Leland McElveen. The homicide investigation was led by GCPD Detective Anthony Clark. Detective Clark and the Glynn County Police Department should be commended for doing a phenomenal job investigating this case which ultimately lead to its successful prosecution.

Members of the media with further questions may contact the Brunswick Judicial Circuit District Attorney’s Office at 912-554-7200.


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Brunswick Man Convicted of Child Molestation and 1st Degree Cruelty to Children State v. Lavorgia Warren

Brunswick Man Convicted of Child Molestation and 1st Degree Cruelty to Children
State v. Lavorgia Warren

June 25, 2024

District Attorney Keith Higgins announces that on Tuesday, June 25, 2024, Lavorgia L. Warren, 43, of Brunswick, GA, was found guilty by a Glynn County jury of one count of Child Molestation and two counts of Cruelty to Children in the First Degree.

The evidence presented at trial showed that between April and September of 2020, Warren, who was 39 years old at the time, would often stay at the home of the two male victims’ mother, at an apartment complex in Brunswick. The two boys were 11 years old and 6 years old at the time. When the boys’ mother was not at home, Warren would maliciously beat the boys with a 5-foot-long bamboo stick, and at night he would slip into the boys’ bedroom and fondle the genitals of the elder boy.

The two boys stayed with their mother on the weekends and during the week lived with their grandmother to attend school. After the boys started having nightmares at the grandmother’s home following the start of the abuse, and she saw the injuries on their bodies, she immediately notified the police. The evidence presented at trial included the bamboo stick, photos and diagrams of the injuries, forensic interviews of the children, nightmare videos and the brave testimony of the two boys.

The case was prosecuted for the State by Assistant District Attorney Melanie Fenley and Deputy Chief Assistant District Attorney Whitney Gregory. DC Gregory stated, “These two boys suffered at the hands of a man their mother trusted. If not for their grandmother, who supported her grandsons in their trauma, who knows how long they may have been made to suffer. The DA’s Office would like to thank the law enforcement professionals who worked this case, along with Dontrell Norman, the former forensic interviewer, and Bethany Browning, the former Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner who testified for the State.”

Warren was sentenced on Friday, June 28, 2024, before the Honorable Judge Stephen D. Kelley to 20 years on each count to run concurrently.

Members of the media with further questions may contact the Brunswick Judicial Circuit District Attorney’s Office at 912-554-7200.


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Brunswick Man Convicted of Aggravated Assault State v. Michael Purnell

Brunswick Man Convicted of Aggravated Assault
State v. Michael Purnell

May 30, 2024

District Attorney Keith Higgins announces that on Tuesday, May 28, 2024, Michael Purnell, 59, of Brunswick, GA, was found guilty of Aggravated Battery. The Glynn County jury deliberated and returned their guilty verdict in under 30 minutes.

The evidence presented at trial showed that on June 22, 2023, the victim, William Glass, was at the Citgo Gas Station on Norwich Street Extension getting money out of the ATM inside the gas station. While the victim was getting money out of the ATM, the defendant walked into the store, came up from behind the victim, and punched the victim in the side of his face/head which caused the victim to be knocked unconscious and fall to the floor. When the victim fell, his head struck the gas station floor.

The defendant then crouched over the victim as if to say something, then started to walk away, and then came back once more towards the unconscious victim and then spit on him. This was captured by surveillance video inside the gas station. The defendant hit the victim so hard you could hear the impact on the video which the jurors were able to see and hear. The victim, unaware of what happened, eventually regained consciousness, and then drove home, which he testified at trial he did not remember. When he arrived home, his family members called 911 as he was bleeding profusely from his head. Law enforcement and EMS personnel arrived to find the victim covered in blood. There was blood all down the side of the truck where the victim had leaned to hold himself up and blood all inside the victim’s garage.

The victim suffered a broken jaw, a large laceration to his forehead and a large laceration to the back of his head. The victim was transported to the ER by ambulance and then transported to Jacksonville due to the severity of his injuries. The victim suffered a level four concussion, had two teeth knocked out, had to have a metal implant inserted in his jaw due to a piece of his jawbone being broken off, six metal screws inserted in his mouth in which his jaw was wired shut for two months, 10-14 stitches in his head for the laceration over his eye, and 7-8 staples for the laceration to the back of his head.

The defendant was positively identified at trial as the offender by two witnesses.

The case was prosecuted for the State by Assistant District Attorney Leland McElveen, who stated, “This was a cowardly premeditated attack perpetrated by the defendant who was held accountable by a jury of his peers. Upon receipt of his sentence, justice will be served.”

Sentencing in this case will has been continued until Friday, June 14, 2024, at 0930 in front of the Honorable Chief Judge Stephen G. Scarlett, Sr.

Members of the media with further questions may contact the Brunswick Judicial Circuit District Attorney’s Office at 912-554-7200.


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Brunswick Man Convicted of 2023 Aggravated Assault at Local Hotel State v. David Lee, Sr.

Brunswick Man Convicted of 2023 Aggravated Assault at Local Hotel
State v. David Lee, Sr.

May 28, 2024

District Attorney Keith Higgins announces that on May 22, 2024, David Lee, Sr., 56, of Brunswick, GA, was found guilty by a Glynn County jury of one count of Aggravated Assault. The jury was unable to reach a unanimous verdict as to the second count of Aggravated Assault, so a mistrial was declared as to that count by Chief Superior Court Judge Stephen G. Scarlett, Sr. Sentencing in the case is withheld until June 18th.

The evidence presented at trial showed that on November 20, 2023, the victim was involved in a relationship with the defendant and attempted to end it as the relationship had become abusive. At the time they resided at the Oleander Hotel in Brunswick. The victim attempted to rent another room to create some distance between herself and the defendant. She asked him for her credit card to rent another room when the defendant struck her in the face with a closed fist. At that time, she was on her bike, and he continued to strike her until she fell off the bike.

The assault occurred in the parking lot of the Oleander Hotel and was captured on surveillance camera at the hotel. On the video the defendant is seen striking the victim several times in the head with a closed fist and his feet. He also grabs her head and hits it onto the pavement several times. He then bites the victim on the side of her face and finger. A neighbor comes out, grabs a broom from the bed of a truck and hits the defendant with it, to help the victim. The defendant, unphased, continued to assault the victim. The neighbor then got in between the defendant and the victim brandishing the broom and telling the defendant the police were on the way. Several people who witnessed the attack called 911 and the Brunswick Police Department responded.

According to Assistant District Attorney R. Ada Zeno, who prosecuted the case for the State, “Domestic violence is often hidden behind closed doors, making it one of the most insidious crimes. It usually thrives on silence and fear; but this verdict breaks that silence and sends a message that our community will not tolerate such behavior.”

Sentencing in this case has been withheld until June 18, 2024. David Lee Sr. faces a possible punishment of up to 20 years in prison.

Members of the media with further questions may contact the Brunswick Judicial Circuit District Attorney’s Office at 912-554-7200.


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Kingsland Man Pleads Guilty to 2023 Murder and Aggravated Assault State v. Octavin Devon Grace

Kingsland Man Pleads Guilty to 2023 Murder and Aggravated Assault
State v. Octavin Devon Grace

May 15, 2024

District Attorney Keith Higgins announces that Octavin Devon Grace, 43, of Kingsland, GA, entered a negotiated guilty plea in Camden County Superior Court on May 15, 2024, to Felony Murder and Aggravated Assault. Grace entered his plea before the commencement of the trial in his case.

The facts of the case show that on the afternoon of August 7, 2023, the defendant, Octavin Grace, pointed a handgun at the victim, Ruby English, in her second-floor apartment residence in Kingsland. English retreated to her bedroom and barricaded her bedroom door with furniture to keep the defendant out. English then called her parents in Miami, who attempted to negotiate with Grace, who had stated he was going to shoot English. English, in an attempt to get away from Grace, then jumped from her second-floor bedroom window and fell to the ground into some bushes.

Grace immediately ran downstairs from the second floor to where English had fell and shot her twice, in the chest and in her mid-section, killing her. The Kingsland Police Department responded immediately. Grace fled into the woods adjacent to the murder scene and was apprehended by police without incident. The murder was witnessed by a property landscaper and captured on apartment complex surveillance video. Grace later admitted to shooting English.

Pursuant to the negotiated plea agreement, Grace pled guilty to Felony Murder and Aggravated Assault, and was immediately sentenced to life with the possibility of parole, plus 20 years for the Aggravated Assault, to be served concurrently with his life sentence, by Superior Court Judge Robert W. Guy. In Georgia, life with the possibility of parole means he will have to serve at least thirty years in prison before he is eligible to apply for parole.

The case was prosecuted for the State by Assistant District Attorney Harold Moroz. Fifteen family members of the victim Ruby English, to include her parents, siblings, children, and grandchildren, traveled from as far away as Miami to attend the trial and were in unanimous support of the plea arrangement and of the District Attorney’s Office for the handling of the case.

Members of the media with further questions may contact the Brunswick Judicial Circuit District Attorney’s Office at 912-554-7200.


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District Attorney Keith Higgins Provides Gang Training for Law Enforcement Officers & Prosecutors

District Attorney Keith Higgins Provides Gang Training for Law Enforcement Officers & Prosecutors

May 3, 2024

To further District Attorney Keith Higgins’ goals of enhancing public safety and addressing the growing threat of gang violence in our community, the Brunswick Judicial Circuit District Attorney’s Office provided a gang training course for area law enforcement officers and prosecutors at the College of Coastal Georgia on May 1-3, 2024. The “Gang Investigation & Prosecution: Best Practices” course was taught by renowned gang instructor and subject-matter expert Jose Ramirez through a combination of classroom lecture and practical exercises to provide our police officers and prosecutors with the knowledge, tools, and techniques they need to effectively detect, investigate, and prosecute gang crimes so we can hold violent gang members fully accountable for their actions.

The District Attorney’s Office will be providing a second session of the same course on July 31 – August 2, 2024, at Coastal Pines Technical College in Jesup so as many of our police officers and prosecutors as possible can attend this valuable training.

The District Attorney’s Office paid the course fee for any law enforcement officer or prosecutor who works in the Brunswick Judicial Circuit from asset forfeiture funds that were seized from criminals and forfeited to the State of Georgia.

According to District Attorney Keith Higgins, “As we continue to see an increase in the amount of violent gang crimes in our communities, I am committed to providing our law enforcement officers and prosecutors with the training and tools they need to attack this problem.”

For more information about the District Attorney’s Office, visit our website at brunswickda.org.


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DA Higgins provided Exchange Club members with a DA Office update

DA Higgins provided Exchange Club members with a DA Office update

May 2, 2024

“Pictured are Incoming Brunswick Exchange Club President Barry Cooper, Outgoing President JP Thornton, Brunswick Judicial Circuit District Attorney Keith Higgins, Secretary-Treasurer Randy Pifer.  DA Higgins provided Exchange Club members with a DA Office update and spoke about his office being one of only a few in the state that is fully staffed with prosecutors; prioritizing cases for prosecution to reduce backlog; providing training for law enforcement and other initiatives to help make our community a safer place to live.”

The Exchange club of Brunswick is a group of men and women working together make our community a better place to live through programs of service, youth activities and our national project, the prevention of child abuse.


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DISTRICT ATTORNEY’S OFFICE WELCOMES NEW PROSECUTORIAL STAFF

DISTRICT ATTORNEY’S OFFICE WELCOMES NEW PROSECUTORIAL STAFF

April 29, 2024

District Attorney Keith Higgins announces the following new hires to the prosecutorial staff of the District Attorney’s Office for the Brunswick Judicial Circuit (BJC).

DA Higgins welcomes Whitney J. Fetzer Gregory to the BJC to assume the duties as Deputy Chief Assistant District Attorney responsible for the Glynn County office. Deputy Chief Gregory comes to the BJC from the Eastern Judicial Circuit in Savannah where she also served as a Deputy Chief ADA over the Special Victims Unit. In that capacity, her caseload included adult rapes and sexual assaults, complex domestic violence cases, complex murders, child murders and domestic- and sex-related murders. Previously, Deputy Chief Gregory worked for the Commonwealth Attorney and for the 19th Judicial Circuit Court in Fairfax County, VA and for the federal government as an auditor/certified fraud examiner. One of Deputy Chief Gregory’s many notable prosecutions include a First-Degree Murder (x2) case in VA where the defendant used a .22 caliber rifle to shoot and kill, in cold blood, her mother and sister in their own home, and then staged it to look like a murder-suicide. The motivation was greed, and the defendant was found guilty following a four-week trial and sentenced to two life sentences plus eight years. Deputy Chief Gregory received her Juris Doctorate, cum laude, from the George Mason University – Antonin Scalia Law School, Arlington, VA; her Bachelor of Science, cum laude, in Accounting with a Minor in Economics, from George Mason University, Fairfax, VA; and attended the University of Oxford, Oxford, England, UK, in the Oxford Honours Programme for Undergraduate Studies, Economics.

DA Higgins welcomes Assistant District Attorney (ADA) Melanie Fenley to the staff of the Glynn County office of the BJC. ADA Fenley received her Juris Doctorate, cum laude, from Atlanta’s John Marshall Law School and her Bachelor of Science in Finance from Indiana University (Southeast). ADA Fenley previously prosecuted all types of felony crimes in the Eastern Judicial Circuit in Savannah prior to coming to the BJC, and prior to that she worked in private practice litigating workers compensation claims.

DA Higgins welcomes Assistant District Attorney Sean P. O’Brien to the staff of the Camden County office of the BJC. ADA O’Brien received his Juris Doctorate from the George Mason University School of Law in Arlington, VA, and his Bachelor of Arts degree in Government, with a Minor in Economics, from the University of Virginia, Charlottesville, VA. ADA O’Brien previously worked as a Major Crimes Prosecutor in the Eastern Judicial Circuit in Savannah. As such, he prosecuted violent crimes which included murder, armed robbery, aggravated assault, home invasion and other violent felonies. ADA O’Brien also worked for the Commonwealth Attorney in Fairfax, VA, in private practice as a defense counsel, and in his own firm.

DA Higgins welcomes Assistant District Attorney Mark J. Blount to the staff of the Appling County/Jeff Davis County Office of the BJC. ADA Blount received his Juris Doctorate from the Duke University School of Law, Durham, NC, and he also attended the University of Michigan Law School. He received his Bachelor of Arts in History from Southern New Hampshire University, Manchester, NH. ADA Blount is barred in Georgia, Missouri and Tennessee and is a founding partner in his own law firm.

Members of the media with further questions may contact the Brunswick Judicial Circuit District Attorney’s Office at 912-554-7200.


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SENIOR STAFF RETIREMENTS IN THE BRUNSWICK JUDICIAL CIRCUIT DISTRICT ATTORNEY’S OFFICE

SENIOR STAFF RETIREMENTS
IN THE BRUNSWICK JUDICIAL CIRCUIT DISTRICT ATTORNEY’S OFFICE

April 29, 2024

District Attorney Keith Higgins announces the retirement of the following senior staff members of the Appling-Jeff Davis Office of the District Attorney’s Office for the Brunswick Judicial Circuit.

Assistant District Attorney (ADA) Jan Kennedy retired after serving over 27 years as a prosecutor in the Brunswick Judicial Circuit. ADA Kennedy served as the Managing Attorney in the Appling-Jeff Davis Office for many years and was named Deputy Chief Assistant District Attorney under DA Higgins in February 2021 until April 2023. ADA Kennedy was initially hired as an Assistant District Attorney in February of 1997, under then District Attorney, now Honorable Judge Stephen D. Kelley. ADA Kennedy received her Juris Doctorate from the University of South Carolina in 1990, a Master’s degree in Business Administration from Georgia Southern College in 1985, and she was a cum laude graduate of the University of Georgia in 1978, receiving her Bachelor’s of Arts in Political Science in 1978.

Legal Assistant (LA) Glenda Sue Spell retired after serving almost 26 years with the District Attorney’s Office. LA Spell started her career as a secretary in 1998 under (then) District Attorney Stephen D. Kelley. Over the years, the position and title changed, and encompassed the duties and responsibilities of a legal assistant. In that capacity, LA Spell became an integral part of the Appling-Jeff Davis Office.

A retirement ceremony was hosted by DA Higgins and the Appling-Jeff Davis Office for ADA Kennedy and LA Spell on February 22, 2024, at the Commissioner’s Meeting Room in the Appling Courthouse Annex. Both were presented with plaques commemorating their service from DA Higgins, who also thanked them for their service, professionalism and dedication to the Office of the District Attorney and the people of Appling and Jeff Davis Counties.

Members of the media with further questions may contact the Brunswick Judicial Circuit District Attorney’s Office at 912-554-7200.


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Brunswick Man Convicted of Kidnapping, Aggravated Assault and Other Crimes State v. Erving Lamar Jackson

Brunswick Man Convicted of Kidnapping, Aggravated Assault and Other Crimes
State v. Erving Lamar Jackson

April 23, 2024

District Attorney Keith Higgins announces that on Wednesday, April 10, 2024, Erving Lamar Jackson, 31, of Brunswick, GA, was found guilty by a Glynn County jury of Kidnapping with Bodily Injury, Aggravated Assault Family Violence, Battery Family Violence, Possession of a Firearm During Commission of a Felony, Theft by Receiving Stolen Property, and Possession of a Firearm by a Convicted Felon. Jackson was found not guilty of Aggravated Assault Family Violence (Strangulation). The jury deliberated for under one hour before reaching its verdict.

The evidence presented at trial showed that Jackson and the victim, LaQuambia Cliette, had previously been in a romantic relationship. On November 9, 2021, the victim received a call at work from Jackson, asking her to meet him and bring him food. Jackson told the victim that he was leaving town to move to North Carolina. The victim got off work and brought him food. Jackson asked the victim to take him a few places afterwards, which she did. During the evening, Jackson became paranoid. As the victim and Jackson were in the victim’s vehicle parked outside of their old address, Jackson pulled a gun on the victim and threatened to kill her.

Jackson forced the victim to drive several places over the course of several hours. At one point, in the early morning hours of November 10, 2021, near Tara Lane and Altama Avenue in Brunswick, Jackson jerked the steering wheel causing the vehicle to crash. Jackson got on top of the victim and started punching her in the face. Jackson then got out of the vehicle, fired a gunshot at a random vehicle, and proceeded to forcefully pull the victim out of the vehicle, and drag her approximately 50 yards by her shirt up into the yard of a residence on Woodland Way. Jackson then started beating on the door of that residence, which was captured on the residence’s doorbell camera. The camera showed Jackson acting erratic and waving and pointing the firearm he held the victim hostage with throughout the night.

Jackson left the front porch of the residence and threw the firearm in the bushes near the scene of the initial crash, which was later recovered by law enforcement. The victim ran for help after Jackson left the front door, but the resident, not knowing what was going on, held the victim at gunpoint until law enforcement arrived.

Corporal Martin Davis, formerly of the Brunswick Police Department, testified he found the victim lying in the yard of the residence, beaten, her face bloody, and her shirt ripped off. Jackson was arrested at the scene. The victim testified at trial to what occurred and to what she endured at the hands of the defendant.

The case was prosecuted for the State by Assistant District Attorney Leland McElveen, who stated, “Domestic violence is so prevalent in society today. Ms. Cliette showed courage by speaking out at trial against her abuser. The jury returned a verdict that spoke the truth and held a previously three-time convicted felon accountable for his heinous actions and their verdict assured that he will no longer be able to hurt anyone else.”

On April 23, 2024, Jackson was sentenced before Glynn County Superior Court Judge Roger B. Lane to a total sentence of Life without Parole plus 45 years under the Georgia Recidivist Act to run consecutive.

Members of the media with further questions may contact the Brunswick Judicial Circuit District Attorney’s Office at 912-554-7200.


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