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Father, son found guilty of murder

By Daniel Silliman

dsilliman@news-daily.com

A father and a son have been found guilty of murdering a man in a Christmastime, drug-related robbery.

After five hours of deliberation and a weekend to think about it, a Clayton County jury found Anthony Ramsey Smith, 32, and his father, Willie Anthony Ashe, 52, guilty of the 2005 armed robbery and murder of 23-year-old Quentin Burks. The trial concluded late Friday afternoon, and the jury reached its verdict Monday morning.

"Guilty on all counts," said Jewel Scott, Clayton County's District Attorney.

According to the prosecution, Smith and Ashe purchased more than $300 worth of marijuana from Burks on Dec. 20, 2005. When they received the drugs, however, the three men quarreled, and Burks threw them out of his apartment at gunpoint.

The father and the son returned about an hour later, the son carrying a loaded and cocked .38-caliber revolver. Smith and Ashe forced their way into the apartment, beat Burks, and then, Smith shot him once in the head.

According to Georgia Bureau of Investigation experts, the gun was fired at about two feet from Burks' head, and the bullet entered his left temple, pierced his brain, and dented the inside of his skull, behind his right ear.

Michael Thurston, the assistant district attorney prosecuting the case, said Burks left a bloody handprint on the floor of his kitchen and was probably on his knees when he was killed by the two men.

His last words were reportedly: "Don't do that. Don't do that. Don't do it."

According to Clayton County Police Detective Tom Martin, the assault and murder weren't motivated mainly by the money or the drugs.

"I think it was about respect," Martin said. "They felt disrespected when he threw them out of his house at gunpoint."

Smith's attorney, Moore Ibekwe, argued the shooting was an accident in a situation saturated with drugs, guns and alcohol. He said Smith's gun went off when Burks slapped it away. Ibekwe also argued against the credibility of the witnesses to the murder -- Burks' girlfriend and a neighbor -- and said that if the jurors believed their stories they should also believe he was personally going to have dinner with the physical Jesus Christ at Red Lobster.

Ashe's attorney, Leon Hicks, argued there was reasonable doubt that Ashe was in the apartment at the time of the murder, or knew his son intended to kill the man.

According to Hicks, the evidence only showed the older man driving his son to and from the apartment complex that day.

Hicks' claim was contradicted, though, by testimony from another son, Anthony Baldwin, that Ashe was angry at Burks and threatened to hurt him, and testimony from Burks' girlfriend that Ashe forced his way into the apartment with his son, on the night of the murder.

Thurston said jurors told him, after they reached the guilty verdict, that they found the son's story of an accidental shooting was "totally unpersuasive," and they found the father was "party to the crime," according to state law.

Ashe and Smith could possibly spend the rest of their lives in jail.

The two men are scheduled to be sentenced by Superior Court Judge Geronda V. Carter on Tuesday.