Juvenile guard charged with murder for allowing fatal fight

Posted at 12:02 PM, Aug 17, 2022

WAYCROSS, Ga. (AP) — Georgia officials have charged a juvenile detention guard with second-degree murder after concluding he allowed a fighting game that led to the death of a boy in state custody.

The Georgia Bureau of Investigation on Tuesday arrested Thomas Lee Hicks, a 30-year-old Waycross resident, charging him with second-degree murder, two counts of cruelty to children and violating his oath as a law enforcement officer.

Hicks remained jailed Wednesday in Waycross with no bail set. It's unclear if he has a lawyer representing him.

GBI agents were called to the Waycross Regional Youth Detention Center on Aug. 9 after the boy was reported to be unconscious. The boy was taken to Memorial Health Hospital in Savannah, where he died. The juvenile’s name has not been released. GBI Special Agent in Charge Mark Pro declined to release a copy of Hicks’ arrest warrant.

Hicks was a juvenile correctional officer at the Waycross center. That and other detention centers are supposed to house juveniles for short stays while they await trial or await entry to a community program or long-term detention facility.

Juvenile Justice Commissioner Tyrone Oliver released a statement Wednesday saying he fired Hicks after learning the results of the investigation.

“The actions of Mr. Hicks are deplorable and do not represent the core values of this agency,” Oliver said, saying department employees send their “heartfelt condolence” to the dead boy's family.

The Ware County district attorney would handle Hicks' prosecution. An employee in the office declined to comment Wednesday.