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Bond denied for suspects

POSTED: March 10, 2010 4:00 a.m.

A Superior Court judge denied bond last week for two Dawson County men charged in the December slayings of a south Georgia couple.

  

The March 3 bond hearing came two days after Jessie James Kilgore, 40, and his nephew Benjamin Kelly Mullinax, 27, were indicted on two counts of murder and two counts of felony murder, among other charges.

  

According to court testimony March 3, Mullinax lured Paul and Jennifer Budrawich to a park by the Amicalola River, where Kilgore then shot them to death.

  

Kilgore is married to Jennifer Budrawich’s mother and is also the father of the slain woman’s oldest son.

  

Testimony by Dawson County Sheriff’s Investigator Jennifer Wright indicated the shooting deaths were the result of a child custody dispute between Kilgore and the Budrawichs.

  

Authorities say Kilgore shot the couple several times with a .38 caliber handgun and dragged their bodies into the river.

  

During the hearing, prosecutors showed the court photographs of the crime scene, as well as some photos of the couple after they had been pulled from the river.

  

During their investigation, authorities found an envelope in the Budrawichs’ vehicle. On it, Jennifer Budrawich had written a note saying the couple had gone to meet her cousin Ben.

  

Neither Kilgore or Mullinax spoke at the hearing.

  

Mullinax’s wife and adoptive father told the judge they believe the suspect, who has no prior convictions, would not be a threat to the community or any witnesses if he was released. Moreover, they said, he was not likely to flee the area.

  

Paul and Jennifer Budrawich had traveled from Effingham County to visit their children the weekend they were killed.

  

Authorities found their bodies a day apart after receiving a frantic 911 call from a woman saying she was going to be shot.

  

The call was from Jennifer Budrawich.

  

A woman’s voice could be heard asking: “Why are you shooting us? Why did you bring me down here to the river?”

  

A man’s voice replied, “I’m going to kill both of you.”

  

According to Dawson County Sheriff’s Maj. John Cagle, who heads the agency’s criminal investigation division, the handgun has not been found.

  

Kilgore has named Rob McNeill from the Dawson County Public Defedender’s Office as his counsel.

  

Lee Parks, an attorney from Hall County, which is also part of the two-county Northeastern Judicial Circuit, has been appointed to represent Mullinax.

  

At the time of his arrest in the murder investigation, Kilgore was out on $35,000 property bond for a May 2009 burglary charge.

  

According to the bail order, Kilgore posed “no threat or danger to any person, to the community or to any property in this community.”

  

Lee Darragh, district attorney for the Northeastern Judicial Circuit, said his office plans to move quickly with the case.

  

As of Tuesday, a trial date had not been set.

 

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