MARIETTA — In his first appearance before a judge Friday evening, Bryan Anthony Rhoden, the man police have arrested in connection with the July 3 triple homicide in Kennesaw, said he had retained counsel and understood his charges.
Standing before Magistrate Court Judge Don Hicks, Rhoden, clad in a dark blue jumpsuit and shackled at the wrists and ankles, was told his bond hearing would be July 27, according to a CBS46 reporter present at the hearing.
Rhoden’s Cobb County arrest warrant accuses him of binding with tape the hands, legs and mouths of victims Paul Pierson, 76, of Kansas, and Henry Valdez, 46, of California.
Pierson and Valdez were found dead in the bed of a pickup truck that was left at the 10th hole of the Pinetree Country Club golf course on Saturday. The truck was registered to Pierson.
Golf pro and Pinetree’s director of golf Gene Siller, 46, went to investigate the truck on the course Saturday and was fatally shot by Rhoden, police say.
Friday's hearing, originally scheduled for 8 p.m., began early. Neither the public nor Rhoden's attorneys had been notified of the change, and Rhoden was without counsel at the hearing.
During the hearing, a video of which was later posted on social media by CBS46, Rhoden told the judge he had spoken to his attorneys. When asked by Judge Hicks whether his attorneys "have ... agreed that we can proceed with this, with just talking with Mr. Rhoden directly," Rhoden replied, "I believe they filed the motion or the paperwork they needed to, but they're just not here right now."
Speaking immediately after the hearing, his attorneys said they were surprised the judge had moved forward with the early hearing.
"We were told it was 8 o'clock as well. When we walked in, they said the judge had conducted the hearing, despite the fact that we have an entry of appearance filed today," attorney Stephen Katz told an MDJ reporter in front of the Cobb detention center's visitor center. "So we don't have any comment but, that's where it is."
Criminal defense attorney Bruce Harvey is the lead attorney on the case, Katz said.
Two women, both of whom declined to comment, stood with the attorneys outside the detention center in the moments after the hearing.
During the one-minute hearing, Rhoden declined to have the charges read to him, saying he had read and understood his arrest warrant, which detailed the charges.
Rhoden was charged with three counts of murder, three counts of aggravated assault and two counts of kidnapping.
"I will not be setting a bond for you at this hearing," Hicks said, telling Rhoden that would come at a later date, "at which time your attorneys would probably offer evidence on your behalf."
Magistrate Court Chief Judge Brendan Murphy told the Journal earlier in the day that Hicks wouldn't have the authority to set bond at Friday night's hearing.
"Because it's a murder, the magistrate judge does not have authority to set a bond anyway," Murphy explained. "Essentially, it's an important constitutional right, people should know why they have been incarcerated, correct, but ... beyond that, when it's a case where there's a written warrant and the accused has notice of why they're in, not much happens."
Rhoden agreed to a July 27 date for the bond hearing, concluding his first appearance.