Lowndes man indicted for murder in Echols

·1 min read

Aug. 2—STATENVILLE — A Lowndes County man was indicted by the Echols County Grand Jury Monday on a murder charge, according to authorities.

Cessor Mario Houston Jr., 45, of Naylor was indicted on a felony murder charge as well as numerous drug charges following a probe into the October 2021 death of Steven Johnson, Echols County Sheriff Randy Courson said in a statement.

Johnson was found dead in his yard Oct. 23; his death was investigated as a possible overdose. Results from an autopsy and toxicology tests led to the case going to the grand jury, according to the statement.

On the evening of Oct. 23, 2021, the Georgia State Patrol and the sheriff's office conducted a roadblock at the intersection of Bethel Church Road and J. Frank Culpepper Road. A trooper smelled marijuana odors coming from a stopped car and a search found illegal narcotics in a backpack, including fentanyl, methamphetamine, morphine, prescription pills and marijuana, the sheriff said.

The sheriff and deputies apprehended Houston at a home on Edgar Road; authorities confiscated baggies of cocaine and methamphetamine packaged to sell, according to the statement.

A drug transaction may have occurred prior to the death, according to the statement.

"This Grand Jury indictment sends a strong message to those who want to sell illegal narcotics in Echols County that this will not be tolerated and will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law," Courson said.

Terry Richards is senior reporter at The Valdosta Daily Times.