A 30-year-old Macon man was sentenced to life without parole Wednesday after Bibb County jurors found him guilty of robbing and fatally shooting a man on Bartlett Street on April 1, 2012.
Jurors deliberated for about two hours before finding Maurice Dugger guilty of murder and armed robbery.
In addition to the life without parole sentence for murder, a judge sentenced Dugger to life on the armed robbery charge and 20 days in jail for contempt because he yelled out during the prosecutors closing argument, according to the district attorneys office.
Dugger testified as the only witness for his defense Wednesday morning.
He openly admitted he is a drug dealer and was carrying a gun on his hip when he went to see Leonard Ray Morgan Cox on the night of April 1, 2012.
Dugger described the 40-year-old Cox as being a higher level drug dealer in the neighborhood where both men sold drugs, along with what he estimated to be another more than 30 dealers.
That night, Dugger had been gambling and had won several hundred dollars. He went to the former boarding house Cox owned at 972 Bartlett St. to buy drugs from Cox, Dugger testified.
But once he arrived, the two men got into a fight, throwing punches and tussling on the ground. They were arguing about Coxs girlfriend, Dugger alleged.
He rushed me, Dugger testified. We were giving as good as we could.
Dugger testified that he had had a sexual relationship with Coxs girlfriend, Maya Wilson, and had known her since she was a child. Wilson denied knowing Duggers name or having a relationship with him during her testimony Tuesday.
At some point during the fight, Dugger said Cox tried to pull him into the house and he resisted, fearing that Cox was going to get a gun.
He is a known drug dealer who always carried a gun, just like me, Dugger testified.
Dugger pulled his gun and the men struggled for control of the gun. The gun went off, he said.
I hear him scream. I hear the girl scream, Dugger said. I ran and prayed that he would be OK.
Im sorry that that man lost his life, but Im glad it wasnt me.
Wilson described the events differently when she testified Tuesday.
She said she saw Dugger, a man she knew by face but not by name, point a gun at Cox and rob him.
Wilson said she watched from inside the house as Cox gave Dugger all he had and then tried to go inside and shut a door.
Dugger blocked the door with his foot and shot Cox, Wilson said.
In closing arguments, Bobby Bearden, Duggers lawyer questioned Wilsons credibility, specifically how she could testify that Cox didnt have a gun and be a drug dealer.
Although police didnt find a gun at the house, Bearden said Wilson could have taken it or it could have been in Coxs truck that was parked outside.
He argued that Dugger was standing his ground while being afraid for his life.
The way he looks at it, it was either him or Ray Cox, Bearden said.
Bearden reminded jurors of testimony that Cox had several scrapes on his face when his body was examined for an autopsy.
He hypothesized, How did they get there if there wasnt a tussle?
Prosecutor Nancy Scott Malcor told jurors that Dugger never told police that he and Cox fought before the shooting.
She said the scrapes on Coxs face could have come either from his falling face-first to the floor after being shot or from trying to shut the door on Dugger.
Wilsons statements to police have been consistent since the night of the slaying and the physical evidence in the case supports her version of the events, Malcor said.
Malcor said Dugger was a greedy drug dealer
He went there to put Ray Cox out of business, either temporarily or permanently, she said.
To contact writer Amy Leigh Womack, call 744-4398.