ATLANTA, GA- The man implicated in the brutal murder of a Buckhead grandmother last year returned to court for what was anticipated to be a final plea hearing. However, the proceedings were cut short as it became clear that neither a resolution nor a trial date would be established on that day. Judge Kimberly Esmond Adams approved a motion for a mental health evaluation, effectively putting the case on hold until the assessment is completed. A status hearing is being scheduled for November 9, 2023. Antonio Brown, the 23-year-old accused, had previously pleaded not guilty in April for the December 2022 murder of Eleanor “Ellen” J. Bowles.
Gerald Griggs, a metro Atlanta criminal defense attorney who is not involved in the case but is familiar with it, spoke out about the motion. Griggs explained that the primary objective is to ensure the defendant’s competency, their understanding of the proceedings, and the roles of the judge, defense attorney, prosecutor, and jury. Griggs, however, expressed skepticism about the November date, doubting that the evaluation could be completed within two months. He cited the backlog of psychological evaluations throughout the state, attributing it to a shortage of doctors or bed space. This backlog, he noted, is affecting not only metro Atlanta but also outlying counties.
The attorney emphasized the high threshold for a person to be declared incompetent. In his experience, this has only occurred once or twice. The evaluation, he said, could significantly influence the case’s outcome. Griggs also noted that if Brown is found guilty, the evaluation could determine where he serves his sentence, whether in a regional hospital, jail, or prison. If Brown is found guilty but has a mental impairment, there are prisons in the system that cater to mental health issues.
Bowles, 77, was discovered fatally stabbed in her Buckhead home in the gated Paces West community. Atlanta Police Department investigators believe the motive was a crime interrupted, with Bowles encountering the suspect attempting to steal her Lexus SUV in broad daylight.
Bowles’ son, Michael, found her. He had been coming home for the holiday to visit with his mother, who was preparing for the Christmas holiday. Michael described his mother as a “beautiful soul” and said that finding her in such a state was the worst possible outcome.
Brown is facing multiple charges, including four counts of felony murder and aggravated assault with a deadly weapon. He is also facing charges for armed robbery, first-degree burglary, elder abuse, theft, robbery, and knife posession during the commission of a felony.