Man Who Killed 2 Deputies Avoids Death Penalty

Sep 6, 2018

A Peach County man who admitted to killing to sheriff’s deputies in 2016 was sentenced to prison for a term that could cover the remainder of his life, plus at least three more lifetimes.

There was never any doubt that Ralph Stanley Elrod Jr., 59, killed Peach County Deputies Patrick Sondron and Daryl Smallwood. He admitted it to the Georgia Bureau of Investigation soon after the armed standoff that followed the slayings in which Elrod barricaded himself in his home with semi-automatic weapons, including an AK-47. Elrod said he shot the officers to avoid arrest for shooting a shotgun at men driving off road vehicles across his property in Byron, south of Macon.

In a written statement after the sentencing, District Attorney for the Macon Judicial Circuit David Cooke said he had been prepared to pursue the death penalty, but at the urging of the deputies’ families he accepted a plea deal instead. That led to two consecutive life sentences without the possibility of parole plus 100 years in prison.

At one time, Georgia juries rendered 15 death penalty convictions in a single year, but this March marked four straight years in which crimes that qualified for capital punishment were met with life without the possibility of parole instead.