Damon Jolly apologized to the family of Bibb County deputy Joseph Whitehead today, minutes after pleading guilty to killing Whitehead during a 2006 drug raid.
In a plea agreement, Jolly was sentenced to life in prison with the possibility of parole after 14 years. Jolly gets credit for the six years he's been in jail since his arrest after the murder.
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During the Bibb County Superior Court proceedings, Jolly said, "Your honor, I would like to take this opportunity to address Officer Whitehead's family, friends, associates, coworkers, (long pause, tears up) and whoever else this situation I have brought pain upon.
"I'm truly sorry for your loss. and I'm truly sorry for all the pain the suffering and the hurt that this has caused you and your friends.
"From day one of your loss...I have been praying to God to strengthen ...
To Whitehead's wife, he said, "All I could think of was how hard my mother had to work to survive as a single parent. And going through all that, the loss of your husband, I'm sorry.
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"I wanted to reach out a long time ago, but didn't know how to go about doing that. I didn't know how I would react.
"I am truly sorry for the death of Officer Whitehead.
Can you find it in your heart to forgive me? I just hope and pray my apology has brought peace to your spirit.
"And for my family, friends and associates, I want to apologize. Knowing how I was raised, I shouldn't even be in this situation. I especially want to appologize to my mother, whom I lost less than a month ago, I just want you to know it's nothing you did or didn't do that I ended up like this."
Judge Tillman Self III accepted Jolly's plea. He has not yet been sentenced.
Jolly entered his plea just after 2 p.m. in Bibb County Superior Court.
Prosecutors called him the key figure in a six-and-a-half year murder case, the man who shot Whitehead to death during a no-knock drug raid.
Jolly faced the death penalty in the case; today's plea takes that off the table.
The saga began in the early morning hours of March 23rd 2006, at a house on Macon's Atherton Street. A Bibb County Drug Task Force used a no-knock warrant to force its way in.
Shots fired inside the house killed Deputy Whitehead.
That day, Macon police arrested five people: Antron Fair, Damon Jolly, Thomas Porter Jr., Cynthia Green and Hassan Harclerode.
The funeral held at the Macon City Auditorium a few days later brought law enforcement from all over the state in a show of support for Whitehead.
Two weeks later, then-District Attorney Howard Simms charged all five suspects with Whitehead's murder and asked for the death penalty for Jolly and Fair. He said both fired shots when deputies entered the Street house.
Two years later, Jolly and Fair's attorneys appealed pre-trial rulings in the case to the Georgia Supreme Court, but the judges ruled against them.
That fall, the Bibb DA reindicted all four male suspects, adding drug and firearms charges to the murder counts. Charges against Cynthia Green were dropped.
In 2010, lawyers took Jolly and Fair's cases back to the Supreme Court. Again, justices cleared them for trial.
Just after the 6th anniversary of Whiteheads death.. Judge Tripp Self set a trial date for alleged gunmen Jolly and Fair. It was to take place in Savannah, because of the years of publicity in Bibb County.
Fair took a plea deal in June, agreeing to life in prison with the possibility of parole. And he agreed to testify against Jolly.
Jolly's plea leaves only the cases against Porter and Harclerode pending.
Porter has been out on bond since 2010. Harclerode is still serving time in federal prison for a conviction connected to this case. He pleaded guilty to providing the Atherton Street house., where drugs were being sold.