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DA: Hallucinating shooter opened fire on ‘zombie’

By Walter Geiger After first denying it, Judge Tommy Wilson revisited the question of bond for accused killer Joshua James Cox and set that bond, for which Cox was statutorily eligible, at $5 million after a hearing Oct. 21 in Lamar superior court. Public defender Doug Smith sought a reasonable bond, arguing the prosecution ‘does not want the facts of this case to come out.’ District attorney Richard Milam agreed that, since Cox had been in jail for 90 days without an indictment, the judge should consider a bond. Milam said Cox told investigators ‘he was under the influence of what he called acid’ when he shot and killed Donald Terrell Clark July 14. Clark was found dead in the driveway of his home at 939 Chappell Mill Rd. Milam outlined Cox’s history of drug abuse. ’This is a person who gets intoxicated and kills people. If there is a bond it should be a very high bond. I hope he can’t make bond. Clark’s widow and two children still live at the home where this occurred,’ Milam said. Smith countered that Milam’s office had had plenty of time to indict Cox and said the issue before the judge was, by law, whether or not Cox would appear in court. He said Cox is 24 and had been living with his parents and six-year-old since his wife left him. ’The wife has her own issues. She has no visitation rights with the son,’ Smith said. Smith said both Cox’s parents have law enforcement backgrounds. Kenneth Cox was with the Atlanta Police Department and now works for the Henry County PD. Deborah Cox is retired after 30 years with APD, he added. He said Joshua Cox has always worked. He spent time as a detention officer, was attending technical school and striving to become a firefighter all while working as a landscaper. Milam claimed that Cox, if freed, would be a risk to intimidate witnesses. Smith said the only witnesses he has knowledge of are law enforcement officers. Smith said Cox has a brother who is a special needs individual and the parents need help with him. ‘His parents want him back at the house,’ Smith argued. Milam brought out that, after the alleged shooting, Cox went home and got into a ‘physical dispute’ with his parents who called 911. Cox was arrested for aggravated assault and two counts of battery. He was in the Butts County jail when it became apparent to investigators here that he could be their shooter. Smith said the parents would not press charges with regard to that incident. Milam countered that Cox faces three possible sentences: death, life without parole and life with a minimum of 30 years in prison. ‘With his habits, that alone makes him a real risk of flight. The widow is in the same home with two kids to care for by herself because her husband is dead,’ he continued. Smith noted Cox called 911 after the shooting thinking they would know where he was. ’When he got into the altercation at home, his father subdued him. He was still under the influence,’ he said. Smith said the Cox home has an extensive alarm and camera system. ’˜You can tell by the camera that he was on something. They had enough to indict. They just didn’t do it,’ Smith added. Milam also raised the issue of multiple firearms in the Cox home. Deborah Cox said the home has a walk-in gun safe with an inner vault. ‘Our guns are extremely secure,’ she assured the judge. Smith noted that Cox had been a model prisoner at the jail and asked again for a reasonable bond. The victim’s mother, Gail Bailey, told Judge Wilson her son had been shot three times not twice as had been previously reported. ’I pray that he (Cox) can get his life right. I have nothing against him. My grandkids are still in that house three miles away. How do we know this won’t happen again. I have to defend my son. He is not here to defend himself. He had a Glock. Where did that come from? How did he obtain it? He came to my son’s house. My son touched his neck real light then he got the Glock and shot my son,’ Bailey said. Judge Wilson asked the attorneys what had occurred at the scene. ’Cox said he had taken acid. He and Clark were smoking marijuana and Clark turned into a zombie so he got his gun and shot him,’ Milam answered. ‘All I know about this case is what I heard today. I heard you describe another felony that occurred after the shooting so bond is denied but I will reconsider if you bring forth further evidence,’ Judge Wilson told Smith. Cox was later returned to the courtroom from the jail due to the requirement by law that a bond be set due to the fact Cox had been in jail 90 days without being indicted. Noting that Cox posed a flight risk and a danger to the victim’s family, he set bond at $5 million. Kenneth Cox winced visibly when he heard the cost of temporary freedom for his son. Joshua Cox was then returned to the Lamar County jail in chains for the second time that day and there he remains.

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