CARROLL COUNTY, Ga. - Channel 2 Action News has learned that a 16-year-old suspect charged with murdering a local jewelry store owner was released from a state juvenile program just days before the killing.
Authorities said thieves shot and killed Mitch Mobley, the 45-year-old owner of a jewelry store that is a fixture in Villa Rica. The incident shook the community.
“It's a shock. For all of us to see a man that everyone in this county knows and then, someone takes his life like that,” one resident said.
Four people were charged, including 23-year-old Raphael Rucker, who was behind bars on felony gun and drug charges weeks before the shooting. The Fulton County District Attorney’s Office dropped the charges, but it’s unclear why.
Now, Channel 2 investigative reporter Richard Belcher has learned of the youngest suspect’s troubled past. Until late last month, Eric Billings was in the legally mandated shadows of Georgia's juvenile justice system.
Neither Villa Rica police nor the state Department of Juvenile Justice will discuss details about Billings’ history, but Belcher learned the DJJ released him from community supervision five days before Mobley’s death.
Sources told Belcher that Billings ran away from his community placement for at least a month earlier this year.
Despite that incident, DJJ authorized his release from supervision with a year left on his sentence.