Dukes refuses plea bargain

Published 12:00 am Thursday, December 10, 2009

VIDALIA — Ricardo Dukes will go to trial Feb. 2 for second-degree murder.

Dukes is the suspect in the stabbing death of Frank Holmes, 50. He appeared in court Wednesday to tell the court he was officially rejecting a plea bargain offered by the Seventh Judicial District District Attorney’s office.

The bargain was originally proffered to spare the victim’s family the agony of having to go to trial, and had been negotiated several times, Assistant District Attorney Ann Siddall said.

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In exchange for pleading guilty to manslaughter, Siddall said Dukes had been offered a possible sentence of 40 years, which was subsequently reduced to 35 years, 30 years and 27 years.

After Dukes said he rejected the offer, Siddall told him, “Manslaughter is off the table.”

When District Attorney Brad Burget asked Dukes if he realized that if a jury convicted him of second-degree murder he would spend the rest of his life in prison, Dukes said he did.

“Just to remind Mr. Dukes, during the two years he has been incarcerated, he did confess twice on tape,” Siddall said.

Several times Dukes started to say something, but attorneys from the indigent defender’s board advised him against it.

The Dukes case began April 2, 2008, when emergency responders found Holmes unconscious and with no pulse on the bathroom floor of 103A John Dale Drive. He had two stab wounds to his chest.

Police at the time said that witnesses at the scene identified Dukes as the suspect.

The stabbing was reportedly the result of an argument that escalated following an evening of otherwise friendly drinking.