Investigation into Coach Death Reveals Crimes at Poker Games - Local news, weather, sports Savannah | WSAV On Your Side

Investigation into Coach Death Reveals Crimes at Poker Games

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Roy Mandel Smith Roy Mandel Smith
Terrance Jones Terrance Jones
LIBERTY COUNTY, GA -

 Liberty County Sheriff Steve Sikes says a task force formed in July to look into the murder of local basketball coach Ernie Walthour and another death in 2010, resulted in indictments.  But he says while two suspects are facing charges in three unsolved murders, they have not yet filed any charges in connection with Walthour's death

Charged are Roy Mandel Smith and Terrence Jones. The two face a total of 46 indictments including five counts of malice murder. (Smith is charged with two counts in connection with two deaths in 1996.  Jones is charged with the two 1996 murders and the 2010 murder of Marquise Smith, who we're told was a friend of Coach Walthour's)

Sheriff Steve Sikes says the two suspects robbed people attending illegal poker games and that sometimes thousands of dollars were involved. Sikes says it's been determined that both Marquis Smith and Ernie Walthour died after attending a game.

Sikes says he has not ruled out these suspects in Walthour's death, but he needs more evidence. "Someone out there knows more about Walthour's death and we need that evidence," Sikes said.

The sheriff said the games were indeed "serious when people are getting killed.  But Sikes told reported "that his department knew nothing about the games."

He also told us that while Waltour was involved in the games, that "Walthour was his friend and still did a lot more good for the community than harm."

Sike says he remains committed to finding Walthour's killer.

He told reporters that one of the suspects, Roy Mandel Smith is in state prison right now.  He says the other, Terreance "Pootch" Jones had been in jail in McIntosh County on a charge of murder and had been out on bond.  But he said Jones has now been picked up on the Liberty County charges and is being housed in the Liberty County jail.

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