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Police testify against father, son in murder trial

By Daniel Silliman

dsilliman@news-daily.com

The medical examiner, sitting in the witness stand, touched the side of his head with a finger, his hand shaped like a gun.

"The entry wound was by his left eyebrow, in his left temple," said Mark Kopon, deputy chief medical examiner for the Georgia Bureau of Investigation. "The 23-year-old gentleman died as a result of the gunshot wound to the head."

Kopon was the fourth witness for the state on Thursday, as a string of law enforcement officials testified in the prosecution of two men, a father and a son, accused of murdering 23-year-old Quentin Burks in December 2005, during a drug deal gone bad.

Willie Anthony Ashe, 52, and Antony Ramsey Smith, 32, allegedly tried to buy marijuana from Burks, who they knew through Ashe's other son, Anthony Baldwin, who worked with Burks.

The 23-year-old refused to sell to the two men, according to Clayton County Police, and threw them out of his apartment at gunpoint a little after 9 p.m., that night.

The two came back about an hour later, according to prosecutors, beat up Burks and then shot him in the head.

Detective Tom Martin said he arrived to find Burks in an ambulance, unresponsive, his white T-shirt cut open by paramedics, and his T-shirt and pajama pants marked with blood.

It was Martin's first homicide case.

He distinctly remembered the case and the murdered man's apartment, a top level, single-bedroom unit in Jonesboro.

There was an unmistakable smell of fresh marijuana, Martin said, that "overwhelmed the room" where Burks was killed. The 23-year-old's body was found on the floor, in the living room, after a neighbor called police and reported the sound of a shot. Burks was found lying on top of a .40-caliber pistol, Martin said, after the father-and-son defendants visited him the third time.

GBI experts said Burks was shot with a .38-caliber bullet, with the gun about two feet from his head, after he was beaten.

Ashe and Smith were named as the pair who had been at the house by Smith's step brother and Ashe's son, who is expected to testify on Friday. They were positively identified by witnesses, including Burks' girlfriend and an apartment maintenance man, who lived on the bottom floor of the apartment.

The maintenance man, Christopher Williams, testified on Wednesday, saying he saw Smith at the apartment and saw the deadly scuffle play out in the apartment in shadows against the upstairs window. The strong fluorescent lights cast strong shadows on the cheap blinds, Williams said, and as he loaded clothes into his car in the back parking lot, he saw the shadow of a man being hit repeatedly, and heard men yelling at each other.

"I heard a little kid yelling, 'They gon' kill my daddy,' 'They gon' kill my daddy,'" Williams said. "When I heard the gun 'pop,' everything got quiet."

The defense attorneys in the case, Leon Hicks and Moore Ibekwe, have questioned the witnesses' accounts and have suggested the incident is a lot more complicated than the prosecution, led by Michael Thurston, allows.

The trial is scheduled to continue on Friday, as the state concludes its case against the father and son. Both men face a possible sentence of life in prison.