By Clay Wilson
The suspects in the June killing of a Stockbridge convenience store clerk will face a grand jury, a judge ruled Wednesday.
The killing was one of seven homicides in Henry County since last August in a year which the detective working the case said has seen the second-highest homicide rate in his memory.
Henry County Magistrate Robert Godwin ruled in a probable cause hearing that there was enough evidence against Kelsey Lee Hall and Kami Anise Faison to send their case to superior court.
Hall, 18, and Faison, 21, are accused in the shooting death of 25-year-old Michael Patrick Rudy on June 25.
Detective Jim Simmons of the Henry County Bureau of Police Services testified that he had received a telephone tip linking Hall to the shooting. He said that once he located Hall's driver's license photo he matched it to the male in the video.
Hall was arrested July 14 at his Riverdale apartment complex. Simmons said that under questioning, Hall admitted that it was him on the videotape. However, although the video shows the male shooting Rudy, Hall did not admit to the shooting, Simmons said.
Faison was arrested July 15 after she came to police headquarters for questioning. Simmons said detectives had asked Faison to come in after both a tipster and Hall identified her as the female in the video. He said that on the video, she is shown bringing a pair of gloves into the store and laying them on the counter.
Simmons testified that Faison told police that the gloves "were for robberies." However, he said she also said she went with Hall into the store not knowing he intended to rob it.
Simmons said Hall told police that he had not handled the money that was taken from the cash register, but that Faison had gotten it. But Faison claimed Hall took the money, Simmons said.
Presentations from Hall and Faison's defense attorneys were brief. After a few questions to Simmons, another detective and a witness who discovered Rudy's body, the lawyers gave their closing arguments.
Hall's attorney, Jeffrey Cofer of McDonough, simply asked Godwin to dismiss the charges against his client.
Clark argued that the charges against Faison should be dismissed because "The only evidence (prosecutors) have is pretty much circumstantial evidence.
"There's just nothing that indicates that Ms. Faison went in (the store) with the idea that an armed robbery would occur," she said.
Godwin, though, found that there was sufficient evidence against both Hall and Faison to bind the case over to Superior Court.
Flint Judicial Circuit District Attorney Tommy Floyd said he anticipates presenting the case to a grand jury for possible indictment by the end of the current term in October.
After the hearing, Mark Alexander, Rudy's stepfather, said he is glad this phase of the case is over. As he has at the several previous occasions on which Hall and Faison appeared in court, Alexander wore a T-shirt with Rudy's picture and the police sketches of the suspects in his killing.
Alexander and his wife, Rudy's mother Susan, had indicated frustration with previous delays while attorneys were obtained for the suspects.
"After this morning I feel like I'm in a better mood than I have been for weeks," Alexander said. Justice is slow, but ... you've got to make sure that you've got the right people and that you do it right."
Since August 2002, there have been seven homicides in Henry County (including one in the McDonough Police jurisdiction).
Simmons, who said he has worked in Henry County law enforcement for 27 years, indicated that this year has seen the second-highest homicide rate in his memory. The only higher year he recalled was 1999, when there were 13 homicides.
Still, he said, he hasn't noticed any particular pattern in homicides. One generalization he did make was that Henry County doesn't have a lot of random killings.
"Most of the time the victim does know the assailant," he said.