Attorneys for a man facing the death penalty in the 2006 slaying of Bibb County deputy argued in court Thursday that it’s unconstitutional that the defendant could be sentenced to die for killing a man he didn’t know was a deputy.
In a motion, Doug Ramseur, an attorney representing 25-year-old Antron Fair, contended that although it’s important to protect law-enforcement officers, people aren’t deterred from killing officers if they don’t know they’re officers.
“You cannot have a deterrent for something you don’t know about,” he argued in court Thursday.
The defense has maintained that the law is too broad in allowing prosecutors to seek the death penalty in the killing of any law-enforcement officer who dies in the line of duty, regardless of whether a person knows he’s killing an officer.
Fair and 23-year-old Damon Jolly face the death penalty if found guilty in the March 23, 2006, shooting death of deputy Joseph Whitehead. Whitehead died as he helped serve a “no knock” warrant at a house located at 3135 Atherton St., off Montpelier Avenue.
During the court session, prosecutor Laura Murphree argued that undercover police work is a prominent investigative tool.
She said people in the “drug world” know there are undercover officers and that if they shoot someone, they run the risk of having shot an officer.
Superior Court Judge Tripp Self did not rule on the issue Thursday, but he said “I have some very real concerns about the constitutionality.”
Ramseur, who has represented Fair since the case began, withdrew from the case Thursday.
He said he has accepted a job as the director of a capital defender’s office in Virginia, and he is resigning his current position at the Office of the Georgia Capital Defender on Sept. 30.
“I’m very sad to be leaving,” he said after the hearing.
“I’ve devoted three and a half years to proving Antron Fair’s innocence. I believe in that very strongly.”
Brian Steele, another attorney working on Fair’s case, said Ramseur’s departure will not delay the case going to trial.
He said he’s ready for trial when a trial date is scheduled.
Information from The Telegraph’s archives was included in this report. To contact writer Amy Leigh Womack, call 744-4398.