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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.