STATESBORO — When Carolyn Downs came home from church, she thought she was going to die.
“I told Billy I loved him and our hearts were right with God,” she said, describing the moment when she joined her husband under the barrels of a gun in their Pembroke home the night of Jan. 12.
The suspects wanted Billy Downs to get the cash while they held his wife hostage, but he talked them into letting her go get the money while they held him, Carolyn Downs said. “He saved my life and put his life in my hands.”
She had to scramble to four different banks to get the $250,000 they demanded, which she dropped off to the suspects in a ditch off Stubbs Farm Road in Bryan County.
Downs testified during the trial of Antonio Lamont Murray, 39, of Pembroke, which began Monday in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Georgia courtroom before Senior U.S. District Judge B. Avant Edenfield.
Gary Lenion McDonald, 36, of Statesboro, and Cecil Dewitt Nelson, 32, of Pembroke, both pleaded guilty recently to conspiring with others to commit kidnappings. Both face a maximum sentence of life in prison and a $250,000 fine.
Murray sat in court Monday, smiling and waving at observers in the courtroom before being admonished by a security officer. He faces seven charges, according to an indictment: conspiracy to commit kidnapping; two counts of kidnapping; six counts of using a firearm during acts of violence; and obstruction of justice.
Murray is accused of kidnapping two Bryan County businessmen, Timothy Marshlett and Billy Downs. Marshlett was forced from his home on Dec. 1 and Downs was kidnapped Jan. 12.
The victims each told chilling tales of home invasions by three men dressed in black, with masks and guns. In each case, ransom was demanded.
Read more in the Aug. 22 edition of the News.