WATKINSVILLE, Ga. --- An Oconee County Superior Court jury convicted a Bogart man Monday of murder and aggravated assault for shooting a motorcyclist in the back and killing him last winter.
Richard Harold "Ricky" Gear was sentenced to life plus five years in prison for malice murder, felony murder, aggravated assault and possession of a firearm during the commission of a crime in the Feb. 25 death of Bryan Joseph "B.J." Mough, of Winder.
Mr. Gear, 46, claimed he shot in self-defense after 21-year-old Mr. Mough followed his daughters home and tried to run him down as he stood in his own driveway.
But District Attorney Ken Mauldin argued that Mr. Gear acted with premeditation when he shot Mr. Mough.
After listening to 46 witnesses and reviewing more than 500 pieces of evidence since the trial began Nov. 17, a jury of nine women and three men took just 31/2 hours to return a guilty verdict.
The victim's father, Mike Mough, had mixed emotions at the end of the trial.
"We're ecstatic with the outcome of the trial, but it still doesn't bring Bryan back," Mr. Mough said. "(Mr. Gear) took the law into his own hands, and he got the verdict that he deserves."
Jurors returned from a four-day Thanksgiving break to hear attorneys' closing arguments Monday morning.
Defense attorney Edward Tolley said he wasn't surprised by the verdict, and that he will appeal.
"I knew (a conviction) was a possibility," Mr. Tolley said. "The facts were very difficult."
Mr. Mauldin said the conviction provides some solace to Mr. Mough's survivors - his parents and two brothers.
"I think the jury's verdict provides some sense of justice," said Mr. Mauldin, the district attorney for the Western Judicial Circuit.
During his closing argument, Mr. Mauldin told jurors how Mr. Gear had time to think before pulling the trigger.
Although his daughters called home to say a man was following them on Atlanta Highway and collided with their car, Mr. Gear had time to dial 911 or make sure his relatives were safely in the house, the prosecutor argued.
Mr. Gear also didn't know the man his daughters called about was driving a motorcycle.
"(Mr. Gear) didn't know that a motorcycle had anything to do with his daughters," the prosecutor said. "He didn't know if (Mr. Mough) was someone who happened to turn down the wrong place at the wrong time.
"His first instinct was to shoot" before getting more information from his daughters, Chelsea and Samantha Gear, Mr. Mauldin argued.
Mr. Gear fired his gun twice as Mr. Mough drove by, and a third time when the biker made a second pass from the other direction.
"This case was about a man who shot first, who shot last and shot in between, and didn't ask questions before and didn't ask questions later," Mr. Mauldin said.