EATONTON, Ga. — The prosecution has now rested in the third day of Donnie Rowe’s trial in Putnam County Superior Court.
On Wednesday, jurors got a look at the prison bus where officers Curtis Billue and Christopher Monica died. Then, Donnie Rowe’s attorneys asked for a mistrial.
A wrecker brought the bus to court from storage where it’s been since 2017 when prosecutors say Rowe and Ricky Dubose allegedly killed the two corrections officers, carjacked a passing car, and escaped.
Defense lawyers argued that jurors didn’t need to see the blood-splattered bus, but Judge Brenda Trammell disagreed.
“There will be no talking allowed, at all, so you are going to be provided gloves and booties. You will be allowed to walk around the bus if you wish, and you will also be allowed to step into the bus if you wish,” said Trammell.
The judge kept the media about 30 yards away, but even from a distance, you could see bullet holes and shattered glass. It was dead quiet as the jury looked at the bus and most stayed outside.
District Attorney T. Wright Barksdale spoke about how jurors reacted.
“None of them were laughing, none of them were crying, there was no emotion. Quite frankly, it might be the most quiet morning I have seen in downtown Eatonton in a long time,” he said.
As soon as everyone was back in the courtroom, Rowe’s lawyers asked for a mistrial saying jurors were crying while inspecting the bus. Judge Trammell disagreed, sharply.
“I will tell you Mr. Levin… I cannot understand where you came up with that characterization. I stood there and watched all those jurors. Nobody cried. Nobody appeared upset. They all appeared contemplative and went and looked at the evidence in this case, so your motion is denied," she said.
As the trial resumed, jurors listened to another witness who found the abandoned hijacked car in Morgan County.
The 21st witness for the prosecution, Patrick Hale, described how Rowe and Dubose came out of the woods near his Tennessee home while Hale waited for police to arrive.
He said the fugitives laid down on concrete near his house. He prayed and his daughter sang.
“I had my daughter on the back floorboard of my vehicle, and that's when I gave my phone to my daughter, that's when my wife had my daughter start singing, 'Jesus loves me, this I know,’” said Hale.
The prosecution rested their case as court wrapped up, and then Donnie Rowe addressed the court saying he will not testify in his own defense.
Rowe faces both malice murder and felony murder charges. He could face the death penalty if convicted on the murder charges.