Man Who Killed 3 at Georgia Golf Course Strikes Deal to Avoid Death Penalty

Cobb County Jail
Cobb County Jail

The Georgia man who murdered three people at a ritzy golf course in 2021 struck a plea deal with prosecutors on Friday, saving him from potentially being sentenced to death in a trial that was slated to commence this year.

Bryan Rhoden, 25, pleaded guilty to 17 felony charges, which included counts of murder, kidnapping, and aggravated assault. He will now spend the rest of his life behind bars without the possibility of parole.

“The families and the state have agreed to accept the plea deal from Mr. Rhoden in exchange for withdrawing our request for the death penalty,” Cobb County District Attorney Flynn Broady told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution in a phone call. “He’s pleaded guilty to the entire indictment.”

The slaying of Paul Pierson, Henry Valdez, and Gene Siller rocked the community at the Pinetree Country Club in Kennesaw, Georgia, an exurb of Atlanta.

Pierson, 76, and Valdez, 46, had their hands, legs, and mouths bound when police discovered their bodies dumped in the bed of a pickup truck that was parked near the 10th hole at the golf course. The body of Siller, a 46-year-old golf pro at the club, was also found near the truck. He’d been shot in the head.

Victims in Golf Course Triple-Murder Were Bound With Tape, Police Say

Cops identified Rhoden as a suspect in the grisly crime, and they pulled over his black Maserati four days after the murders—arresting him on a slew of charges that included DUI. He was briefly released from custody but was arrested again days later after evidence arose that cops said definitively linked him to the slayings.

Alejandro Guerrero, a friend of Pierson and Valdez, told the Journal-Constitution that his pals knew Rhoden through the “cannabis trade.” Guerrero said Valdez was a broker who worked with a “very small circle of people he trusted,” including Rhoden.

It remains unclear what led Rhoden to snap.

Cops confirmed that Rhoden, Pierson, and Valdez all knew each other but said Siller was a stranger to all three—likely caught in the wrong place at the wrong time, and possibly killed solely because he’d witnessed the murder of Pierson and Valdez.

Siller left behind a wife and two young sons, his family said.

The triple murder wasn’t the first time Rhoden had been arrested for a violent crime. Records show he was previously arrested for allegedly getting into a shootout at Georgia State University, where he was a student, over a drug deal gone wrong.

Rhoden was also arrested in 2020, when airport police in Atlanta seized nearly $20,000 in suspected drug money from him as he boarded a flight to Los Angeles. He was never charged with a crime. He was arrested a second time in 2020 for leading cops on a high-speed chase in Indiana, where he reportedly clocked speeds as high as 150 mph.

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