Less than a week before he was due to go trial for the 2009 murder of a 65-year-old Loganville woman, Barry Marquez Partee, 23, of Monroe, pleaded guilty to a lesser charge. Felony murder was taken off the table and Partee agreed to testify truthfully next week in the trial of the last of the three defendants in the case, John Jody Blackwell. The first defendant in the case, Cory Butler, has already been sentenced to life without parole for his part in the robbery and beating that resulted in the death of Epsie Ewing of Loganville.
Ewing and her husband, C.F. Ewing, were beaten during a robbery at the couple’s home on May 21, 2009. Ewing died a month later in the hospital as a result of the injuries she sustained during the beating.
Appearing in front of Alcovy Circuit Superior Court Judge Eugene Benton on June 4, 2014, and represented by well-known Atlanta attorney Bruce Harvey, Partee was sentenced to a total of 30 years, to serve 12, and a total of $6,000 in fines. Several of the eight counts for which he was sentenced were allowed to run concurrently. He has 18 years of probation to pay off the $6,000. Partee pleaded guilty to two counts of aggravated assault, two counts of false imprisonment, two counts of possession of a firearm during the commission of a felony, one count of burglary and one count of armed robbery.
Harvey argued that the fines totaling $6,000 were onerous and it would be difficult for Partee, now a convicted felon, to earn that kind of money.
“What we want is for Marquez Partee to come out into society and be a productive member of society and that won’t be for at least six years from now,” Harvey said.
However, Alcovy Circuit Court District Attorney Layla Zon argued that the fines remain. Benton agreed, saying that Partee had 18 years to pay the money and that amounted to less than $500 a year.
Partee will be credited with time served, which would leave him with a balance of seven years of incarceration in a state facility remaining. Partee has been incarcerated in Walton County since May 29, 2009. He, Butler and Blackwell were all arrested within about a week of the crime. Benton ruled that in addition to testifying truthfully in Blackwell’s trial next week, Partee obtain his GED while in prison and that he have no contact with his co-defendants or the family of Ewing. Partee and Blackwell were both 18 and seniors at Monroe Area High School at the time of the crime.
This was the second time that Partee had tried to plead guilty to a lesser charge. On March 23, last year, he backed out while in court, claiming that his attorney had coerced him. This time, however, he followed through.
Some of Ewing’s family were in the courtroom for Partee’s sentencing on Wednesday. Ewing’s sister, Faye Evans, said – somewhat hesitantly – that she was comfortable with the sentence and that she was grateful that Partee had agreed to testify truthfully in Blackwell’s trial. She said she also was grateful that at least it is finally coming to an end.
On the 23rd of this month, it will be five years since Ewing succumbed to her injuries. Evans said once this is over, she will be able to find peace and move on with her life. She said she had promised her sister she would follow through and make sure that she got the justice she deserved.
“I feel I’ve done that,” Evans said. “Once this is over I will go straight to her grave and let her know.”
Blackwell was initially scheduled to go on trial together with Partee next week. At this time, that trial is still on the calendar for Blackwell alone. Up until last year, all three defendants were facing the death penalty, but it was taken off the table when Butler agreed to a bench trial. Butler was subsequently found guilty by Benton and sentenced to life without the possibility of parole.