Crime

Trial date set for man charged in midstate deputies’ deaths

Man charged in Peach County deputies’ deaths arraigned

Ralph Stanley Elrod Jr., the man charged with murder in the Nov. 6, 2016, fatal shooting of two Peach County deputies, appeared in Superior Court Thursday, July 6, 2017, for an arraignment.
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Ralph Stanley Elrod Jr., the man charged with murder in the Nov. 6, 2016, fatal shooting of two Peach County deputies, appeared in Superior Court Thursday, July 6, 2017, for an arraignment.

A trial is set to begin in early 2018 for the Byron man charged with shooting two Peach County deputies to death in 2016.

Ralph Stanley Elrod Jr. formally entered his plea of not guilty Thursday during a hearing in Peach County Superior Court.

The judge set the trial for Feb. 12, 2018. If convicted, Elrod could face the death penalty.

Elrod is charged with murder and other crimes stemming from a Nov. 6 encounter with Deputy Daryl Smallwood and Sgt. Patrick Sondron outside his home.

The deputies had gone to talk with Elrod about a complaint that he’d threatened a neighbor’s nephews who’d been riding a four-wheeler and a motorcycle in front of his home.

A few seconds into a conversation, Sondron reached out as if he was going to take Elrod into custody, and Elrod shot the deputies before going back inside his house, authorities have said.

When more officers arrived, Elrod came out of his garage carrying a rifle and wearing a bulletproof vest. He was wounded in a shootout with police .

Sondron died soon after the shooting. Smallwood died two days later.

During a scheduling discussion Thursday, the prosecution and defense discussed the amount of case materials shared with the defense.

Court records show prosecutors have provided Elrod’s defense team — Macon attorney Franklin J. Hogue and two lawyers from the Georgia Capital Defender’s Office — with a number of documents and videos including:

▪ More than three dozen audio interviews;

▪ Dash camera videos from Byron police vehicles. The officers were involved in a shootout with Elrod after going to his house after Smallwood and Sondron were shot;

▪ Dash camera videos from Smallwood and Sondron’s patrol cars;

▪ A cellphone voicemail on Elrod’s son, Jarrod. The Telegraph reported in March about a voicemail Elrod left on his son’s phone that said: “Hey, Jarrod, this is my last day on this planet. I’ve just killed two police officers from Peach County. I’m sorry, son. But, uh, this is probably it for me. Love you. Bye;”

▪ Video of a Nov. 7, 2016, police interview with Ralph Stanley Elrod Jr.;

▪ 911 calls;

▪ Photos;

▪ Crime lab reports.

Elrod is being held at the Bibb County jail as he awaits trial.

He is next set to appear in court Sept. 7 for a motion hearing.

Amy Leigh Womack: 478-744-4398, @awomackmacon

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