Jun. 3—The Brunswick Judicial Circuit District Attorney's Office has dropped murder charges against Roger Lee Owens, the man Brunswick police arrested in connection with the 2017 triple slaying of an elderly couple and their adult grandson inside their Wolfe Street home.
DA Keith Higgins filed a motion of nolle pros Friday on Owens, the man Brunswick police initially charged with malice murder in the shooting deaths inside the 2220 Wolfe St. residence on June 17, 2017.
The motion means the DA's Office is not pursuing those charges.
Higgins told The News the case against Owens was dropped due to "insufficient evidence."
A primary factor in the decision hinged on ownership of a knife that investigators found inside the home, Higgins said.
He noted that there is no statute of limitations on murder cases, meaning the case could be "re-indicted" should additional evidence come to light.
On a Sunday afternoon in June 2017, Brunswick police found Carson Holliman Sr., 64, Vondell Holliman, 63, and Christopher Holliman, 24, shot to death inside their modest wood-frame home. Police entered the home on a welfare check after the three did not attend services as usual at nearby Mt. Zion Baptist Church.
A lengthy investigation by Brunswick police and the Georgia Bureau of Investigation led to Owens' arrest on Oct. 10, 2017, on three counts of malice murder.
A Glynn County Grand Jury indicted Owens several days later, accusing him of killing the three during an alleged botched home invasion that may have had ties to local street gangs. The grand jury additionally charged Owens with three counts of felony murder, one count of home invasion, one count of first degree burglary and one count of unlawful association with a criminal street gang.
Higgins said investigators alleged a knife found inside the home belonged to Owens. Higgins said it was later determined that the knife belonged to Christopher Holliman.
A witness also significantly changed the story originally told to investigators, Higgins said.
Higgins said DNA analysis indicates the knife was not touched by the suspect.
"Additional DNA analysis that came to light that indicated an item previously linked to Roger Owens actually belonged to one of the victims," Higgins said. "And a witness's previous statement drastically changed. Based upon that, we felt there was insufficient evidence against Owens in the matter."
Higgins said he talked with family members of the victims prior to filing the nolle pros motion.
Owens was released Friday from the Glynn County Detention Center, jail records show.
Brunswick Police Chief Kevin Jones said Wednesday that it is too early to determine whether police will reopen the investigation. He said Higgins informed police of his decision prior to filing the motion, but Jones would not comment further.
"It is our job to find probable cause and make arrests," Jones said. "It is his job to determine if there is enough there to prosecute the case. We respect his decision if he does or does not feel comfortable doing that. We each have our role. He talked to us in advance. I certainly do appreciate that."
Carson Holliman Sr. worked in firearm support services at the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center. He had been a standout football player and track athlete at Risley High and then at Glynn Academy after desegregation.
Retired from a career as a local public school teacher, Vondell Holliman volunteered as a poll worker with the county Supervisor of Elections Office.
Christopher Holliman was a popular cashier at the now-shuttered Winn-Dixie grocery store on Altama Avenue. He also played drums for Mt. Zion's church choirs.
Police said Owens often stayed with relatives at a home near the Hollimans' residence on Wolfe Street. Investigators alleged Owens shot the three dead with a handgun during a possible misdirected home invasion, according to grand jury proceedings.
Investigators alleged Owens may have intended to target a rival gang member at a neighboring home, according to the grand jury.
Higgins said Wednesday the investigation is ongoing.