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Closer Look: Why Bibb County Sheriff's Office says investigators ruled 6 homicides in 2021 as 'justifiable'

Sheriff Davis says his office defines a homicide as justifiable if the killing happened in self-defense or to defend another person.

MACON, Ga. — Macon-Bibb County set a record last week--logging its 53rd homicide of 2021. The homicide count is now one more than what the county saw in 2020 and the most since the Federal Bureau of Investigation started tracking annual crime numbers.

On Monday, Mayor Lester Miller called a news conference, stating the homicide figure includes accidental and unintentional killings. 

Sheriff David Davis says not all homicides are murders. According to numbers provided by the Bibb County Sheriff's Office, 42 of the 53 homicides this year are currently classified as murders. 

One of the 53 homicides is outside the jurisdiction of Bibb County Sheriff's Office because it occurred at Central State Prison. 

Davis says his office classifies those other 10 homicides as either involuntary manslaughter, justifiable homicides, or undetermined.

"Justifiable Homicides"

Investigators concluded six of the homicides this year were "justifiable homicides," but what exactly is a justifiable homicide?

Sheriff Davis says his office defines a homicide as justifiable if the killing happened in self defense or to defend another person.

"It's cases when someone is being threatened by bodily harm or death," Davis said. 

The first of six homicides Bibb Investigators ruled as justifiable was the shooting death of Dominique Walker, Jr. in March 2021. Deputies says it all started with a fight. 

"We believe Walker began the shooting, and someone was returning fire," Davis said. 

Then, in June, deputies concluded 18-year-old Marquavious Wright was killed out of self-defense.

"[The case of] Marquavious Wright was a situation where he was going to be involved in a robbery. The person who shot him was trying to defend themselves from being robbed," Davis said. 

Davis say Wright along with 17-year-old Travis Demontae Gilbert and 14-year-old Shamar Smith attempted to rob that person. That's why even though investigators don't believe Gilbert and Smith pulled the trigger, they still face murder charges in the case.

Other homicides deemed justified by investigators include Antraz Burkett.

Deputies say he attacked a woman with a hammer, hitting her in the face and head several times. Then, the woman's husband shot and killed Burkett.

Investigators say 31-year-old Anthony Burke busted a window and kicked in the front door of his ex-girlfriend's home. A man inside that home shot and killed Burke.

Then, in a double shooting in October, investigators ruled Aquanis Howard's death a murder but Jeremy Bebee's as justifiable.

"We have reason to believe that Mr. Bebee was one of the ones that had been doing the shooting originally," Davis said. "There was returned fire that hit him."

Lastly, investigators say the homicide of Jarvis Ottman in this parking lot in November was self-defense.

"Mr. Ottman had come up and blocked the car in. He was coming to it in a threatening manner. The driver was not sure what was going to happen," Davis said. 

The sheriff says the driver shot to protect himself and passengers in the car, including children.

Involuntary Manslaughter

Aside from the six homicides ruled justifiable, investigators classified three as involuntary manslaughter: 8-year-old Miracle Brantley, 4-year-old Kameron Ross, and 54-year-old Larry Liggins. 

In late January, deputies say children were playing with a gun in their grandmother's kitchen when it went off, hitting Brantley. When a deputy got to the scene, the victim's brother told them his sister, Miracle, shot herself in the head. She later died.  

In September, deputies say 4-year-old Kameron Ross found a gun in an apartment, and it went off. 

Larry Liggins is another case investigators have ruled "involuntary manslaughter." The sheriff's office says a man punched Liggins at a Macon bar. Liggins fell and hit his head on a wood column. He later died. 

Davis says in each of these three cases, there was enough evidence to rule the deaths unintentional and caused by either reckless conduct or negligence.

Undetermined

The sheriff says the one homicide still labeled as "undetermined" is the shooting death of Quentavious Moore at the Macon Mall on Eisenhower Parkway in August. The sheriff's and district attorney's offices are still discussing if there will be any arrests and what possible charges may be.

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