Middle Georgia Cold Cases: The Barroom Brawl

MACON, Georgia (41NBC/WMGT) – One Macon mother is still looking for justice after he son died after he was involved in a fight in February 2009. It’s an all new Middle Georgia Cold Cases.

The case went before a grand jury, but the jury ruled there wasn’t enough evidence to convict a killer.

There’s a certain love a mother has for her only son.

“This is Robby. He was premature. Four pounds and six ounces,” Betty Saxby said, admiring pictures of her son Robert.

Robert Saxby Jr., or Robby, was a star — accomplished, diverse, and a good spirit.

“As a mother you can sometimes over exaggerate things, but that’s just the way he was,” Betty said.

Robert loved medicine. After his time in the army, he pursued degrees in the medical field. After a rough day at work one day in February, he decided to look for a stress reliever.

Betty spoke to him briefly.

“I could tell something was bothering him. He said ‘mama let me call you later,” Betty said.

So Robert and his friend, Lorenzo Davis, went to the Polly Mirage — a small nightclub off Jeffersonville Road in Macon.

It was Superbowl Sunday.

As the night crept into the early morning hours, a fight broke out — no idea what could’ve triggered the brawl, but authorities say it may have been over a woman.

Robert was involved.

“He said Ms. Saxby, Robby is dead and I thought I was hearing wrong. I said what did you just say. He said Robby is dead,” Betty said while remembering what Davis told her that night.

An incident report from the Bibb County Sheriff’s Office shows Davis telling a deputy about a fight breaking out inside the club between Robert and seven or eight people.

“That’s a miracle if God let you live,” Betty said.

But Robert was dead. Aside from a knot on Robert’s head, there weren’t any visible injuries.

So how did he die?

An initial autopsy from the county coroner showed Robert died from cardio-respiratory complications or a concussion.

“…didn’t have fractures, didn’t have broken bones, didn’t have broken teeth,” Houston County District Attorney George Hartwig, who was an assistant D.A. at the time, said.

Hartwig was a special prosecutor called in on the case because of a conflict of interest with several of the suspects and the Bibb County District Attorney’s Office.

Shortly after the first autopsy, Robert’s family had a second one done.

“The second autopsy actually caught some things or pointed out some things that were not contained, medically, in the initial autopsy,”Hartwig said.

The findings showed Robert died from “complications of physical exertion associated with blunt force trauma of the head and neck.”

“He was murdered. He didn’t just go out there and fall down and die,” Betty disputed.

Months after Robert’s death, nine people were arrested — all of them charged with felony murder. As the case started to form and the prosecution began piecing together evidence and witness testimonies, there wasn’t much to pinpoint any one person.

“We really did everything we could do to determine whether or not this was, in fact, a case that could be criminally prosecuted,” Hartwig said.

Hartwig says because Robert didn’t have any major injuries associated in a fight and the fact that the witnesses who came forward couldn’t say who was involved,  he thought he had a weak case.

“We don’t make decisions and go forward with prosecutions or close cases based on emotions and feelings and those type of things. You have to look at the case and look at the facts and look at the evidence,” he said.

A grand jury ruled a decision within minutes saying there was a lack of evidence to convict any of the people who were arrested.

A big blow for Betty and her family.

“The justice system here in Macon really let me down,” she said. “We have gone through all kind of struggles trying to get justice and we don’t have any closure because we don’t know what really happened to him.”

“I think we did the right thing in the way we handled the case and the way we presented the case. Not every case that we handle moves forward to a trial and results in convictions and people going to prison. That’s not reality and that just doesn’t happen,” Hartwig said.

Betty says she hasn’t given up. She’s written letters, reached out to many people, trying to find a way to bring justice to her only son.

“That crime is still alive and I pray for those people every night that it gets on their mind and on their conscience to do something about it,” she said.

Anyone who feels like they can help reopen this case is asked to call the Bibb County Sheriff’s Office at (478) 751-7500.

Categories: Bibb County, Local News, Middle Georgia Cold Cases, Special Report

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