Ralph Stanley Elrod Jr., the Byron man charged with killing two Peach County deputies, pleaded not guilty Thursday morning.
Elrod, who is facing the death penalty, appeared in Peach County Superior Court with his attorney Frank Hogue.
On November 6, 2016 two Peach County deputies, Sergeant Patrick Sondron and Deputy Daryl Smallwood, were shot and killed. Ralph Elrod is accused of pulling the trigger.
Thursday at Elrod's arraignment he pleaded not guilty and waived the formal reading of the charges against him. A tentative trial date was set for February 12, 2018 but he will be back in court on September 7, 2017 for a motion hearing.
"It's a motion concerning a challenge of the composition of the jury. There requirements for the clerk of the court to have the grand jury to compose a jury that represents the demographics of the county,” explains defense attorney Franklin Hogue.
Elrod's attorney Frank Hogue says a concern in many death penalty cases is, will they get a fair trial in that area?
"Well, we don't know yet. One of the investigations we do is finding all of the publicity that's been generated about the cause and how likely it is that they've heard about this case and formed an opinion about it,” says Hogue.
District Attorney, David Cooke, says his main concern is to do everything in his power to fight for the slain officers.
"I think the most important thing for us is to make sure we get everything done so that we can get justice for deputies Smallwood and Sondron and we look forward to our day in court,” says Cooke.
Elrod was allowed to wear civilian clothes in court because his lawyers filed motions during his May court appearance asking that he not have to wear a jail uniform or shackles in the courtroom. The judge approved those motions.