Two charged in shooting death

Published 11:31 am Thursday, April 23, 2009

Two suspects were in custody on Wednesday and have been charged with the April 8th murder of James Curtis Christian Jr.

On Wednesday, Decatur County Sheriff’s Investigators charged Marquez Taylor, 16, of 128 Black Jack Road, and Willie Earl McGriff, 25, of 115 Rosa Lee Lane in Attapulgus, with the murder of 29-year-old Christian.

Christian was found shot outside of his home at 137 Bruce Road shortly after 3 a.m. on April 8. His girlfriend said he walked into their bedroom and said, “Somebody shot me,” according to investigators.

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Christian was found outside of the home where he collapsed, apparently trying to get to his mother’s home, 20 to 30 yards away.

Capt. Chip Nix attributes information provided by members of the community as a major factor in making the arrests.

“People in the community pointed us in the right direction, leading us to the suspects and other parties involved that had information,” said Nix.

He said one of the witnesses said they saw Taylor with a gun and ski mask—similar to one found at the scene. Three other witnesses said McGriff had spoken about the shooting in their presence.

“The witnesses provided statements with details that we were able to corroborate,” said Nix.

Investigators were also able to locate a Ruger .22-caliber pistol they believe to be the murder weapon, thanks to witnesses that led them to a swampy area on Highway 241 near Attapulgus where the gun was said to be disposed of.

On Wednesday, an extensive search for the weapon was conducted by numerous Sheriff’s deputies and investigators aided by Georgia Bureau of Investigations Crime Scene Technician Wes Horne and the tracking dogs from the Florida Wildlife and Game Commission. The Decatur County Road Department also assisted in the search by helping pump water from the area and dig trenches.

“We found a gun that we believe to be the murder weapon, although it has yet to be determined by forensics,” said Nix.

He went on to say the firearm matches description of the weapon given by witnesses and they are in the process of matching the gun to the shooting.

When interviewed, both Taylor and McGriff confessed to their involvement in attempting to rob Christian, but neither admitted to the shooting-blaming the other, according to Nix.

“We have determined that robbery was the motive, but we don’t know if it was drug-related,” said Nix.

He said the two suspects’ cell phones have been subpoenaed to the get phone records that could possibly link the shooting to drugs.