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Final arguments made in father, son murder trial

By Daniel Silliman

dsilliman@news-daily.com

The defense attorneys argued for accidents and alternate theories, in the conclusion of the murder trial of a father and a son.

"This is a very traumatic situation," said attorney Moore Ibekwe. "It's very, very tragic, regardless of what happened. Sometimes accidents happen. Sometimes, crazy things."

Anthony Ramsey Smith, 32, and his father, Willie Anthony Ashe, 52, are accused to murdering 23-year-old Quentin Burks in 2005, about a week before Christmas, in a drug deal gone bad.

On Friday afternoon, on the fourth floor of the Clayton County courthouse, Ibekwe argued his client, Smith, shot Burks in the head by accident. The man slapped the gun, Ibekwe said, and it went off. The attorney characterized the violence as a bad situation, created by alcohol, drugs and guns, and resulting in the accidental death of a "known drug dealer who is dealing drugs."

Leon Hicks, defending Ashe, pulled out a large sheet of yellow paper, in his closing argument, and wrote out, "REASONABLE DOUBT."

Hicks questioned the credibility of witnesses, in the week-long murder trial, and suggested Ashe might not have been in the apartment at the time "certain things occurred." He urged the jury to carefully consider the lack of evidence brought by the prosecution.

"In this case, I think there's reason to doubt all over the place," Hicks said. "The evidence you've heard, it leaves you halting and hesitating. That's doubt."

Prosecutor Michael Thurston said the two defense attorneys spent a lot of time distracted, during the trial, and he asked the jury to focus.

"Quentin died that night," Thurston said. "Was there a big Christmas tree? Was there a small Christmas tree? Were the lights blinking? Were there lights? Let's focus!"

According to Thurston, the father and the son went to Burks' third-story, Jonesboro apartment to buy $350 worth of marijuana. They reportedly didn't like the marijuana they were given, got into an argument, and were thrown out of the home by Burks, at gunpoint.

Angry and frustrated, the two men returned an hour later, "this time with a loaded and cocked gun."

According to Thurston's theory, which is backed by the Clayton County Police Department detective, the father and son forced their way into the apartment that night. First, Ashe disguised his voice and said he was one of Burks' friends, then Smith, carrying a gun, stuck his foot in the open door and the two men forced their way in.

They cornered Burks, forced him into a corner, beat him, and then shot him once in the head. A bloody handprint on the floor indicates he was probably on his knees, when he was "executed," the prosecutor said.

Smith told the police that Burks' last words were, "Don't do that. Don't do that. Don't do it."

Thurston asked the jury to find Smith, the son, guilty of malice murder, arguing he planned to kill the man "with malice aforethought" and a "malignant heart." He asked the jury to find Ashe, the father, guilty of being a party to the murder, even though he may not have planned it, and guilty of killing Burks while he was committing the felonies of burglary and aggravated assault.

The jury went into deliberations Friday, but adjourned without reaching a decision. They will return to the courtroom on Monday morning, to consider the pleas of the prosecutor and two defense attorneys.