A month after the ruthless slaying of an Augusta convenience-store clerk, authorities say they have caught the triggerman and an accomplice.
Edward Earl Judkins, 26, of the 1800 block of Apple Valley Drive, and Curtis Malcolm Woodyard, 17, of the 700 block of Bransford Road, are charged with murder in the death of Holiday Market employee Gordon Petty.
Mr. Petty, 48, was found dead at about 5:30 a.m. Nov. 27 behind the store at 3033 Wheeler Road. Investigators said he was shot in the back of the head during a robbery. Only $13 was taken, according to store officials, and a video surveillance equipment was set on fire.
Mr. Judkins and Mr. Woodyard were arrested Thursday. An investigation into Wednesday's attempted armed robbery of a Washington Road McDonald's revealed links to the November slaying, Richmond County sheriff's Maj. Ken Autry said.
Each man faces charges of murder, armed robbery and possession of a firearm during commission of a crime. Mr. Judkins faces additional charges in connection with the McDonald's robbery attempt.
Mr. Petty's brother called the arrests "amazing work." Richard Petty, of Vidalia, Ga., said family members had feared the culprits would disappear and investigators would wait for a break in the case for a long time.
"I've never had any doubts about the Richmond County Sheriff's Department," Mr. Petty said. "I knew the good Lord was going to use them as an instrument, and he did.
"For it to happen this quick is really just a miracle."
A lifelong bachelor, Gordon Petty lived with his elderly mother, Grace, in an apartment off Wrightsboro Road before his death. Relatives say he had plans of returning to school at Augusta Technical College and working in emergency medical services. The third shift at Holiday Market left his days free for classes.
He was killed because he recognized one of the robbers, Maj. Autry said. Authorities say it was Mr. Woodyard who fired the fatal shot, he said.
Investigators will review local unsolved robberies to determine whether the men can be linked to those cases, Maj. Autry said.
"That's something that we are looking at," he said. "At some point, we will concentrate our efforts in that direction."
Although the Petty family was elated by the news of the arrests, it hasn't made coping with the death easier, Richard Petty said. And the trial process won't make things better.
Should the district attorney's office pursue the death penalty, Richard Petty said, he would be supportive.
"I have no problem with that whatsoever," he said. "Not in a case like this."
The killing marked Augusta's 23rd homicide in 2000. The city has since had two more slayings, bringing the total to 25.
Richmond County Sheriff's Department levied the following charges against two men Friday in the November slaying of an Augusta convenience-store clerk:
Reach Brandon Haddock and Johnny Edwards at (706) 724-0851.
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