By Ed Brock
The man arrested in connection with the death of a Forest Park woman appeared agitated and talkative as he made his first appearance in Clayton County Magistrate Court.
In the few statements he made during his first appearance Wednesday Franklin Hudson Jr., 33, seemed to be saying that police were trying to charge him with the murder of 48-year-old Ramatoulie Demba whose body was found Sunday in her home on Boca Grande Boulevard.
Hudson was charged with theft by receiving following his arrest Monday night. Investigators say Hudson was in possession of a car stolen from the home of Demba. After telling Clayton County Magistrate Judge Keith Scott that he did not expect to make the $10,000 bond set in the case, Hudson began talking to Scott about his case.
"I feel like they're trying to take this case to another level," Hudson said.
Scott reminded Hudson that he had the right to remain silent and urged him to use that right.
Following that, as Hudson was filling out the paperwork to apply for a court-appointed attorney, he turned to television and newspaper photographers who were standing nearby and told them not to take his picture. A bailiff approached Hudson, whispered in his ear, and then Hudson fell silent.
Hudson was arrested at the Chamblee Inn on Old Dixie Highway after an off-duty police officer working at the motel told investigators that he had seen Demba's car enter the parking lot that evening. The investigators questioned Hudson and four other people who were in the same room as Hudson but arrested only Hudson, Clayton County Police Capt. Tim Robinson said.
Hudson was not a registered guest at the hotel.
Robinson said Hudson told investigators that he got the car from somebody else. That explanation wasn't satisfactory for Pateh Mbowe who once worked with Demba at National Car Rental.
"If it wasn't him then he needs to give us more information," Mbowe said. "I don't know how dumb you want to be, driving a stolen car."
Mbowe said he had supervised Demba, an immigrant from Gambia, for four years at the car rental company and had kept in touch with her after she left the company about three months ago. He had been talking to her the week before her death, helping her with her resume.
"She was phenomenal. She was the kind of individual who made friends easily no matter where she went," Mbowe said. "She didn't deserve this. Nobody deserves this but especially not Rama."
Mbowe, who came to the courthouse for Hudson's hearing, said he had faith in the system and he would let the Clayton County police "do what they do."
"We'll wait and see what happens," Mbowe said.
Demba was buried Tuesday at the Muslim cemetery in Lovejoy. Mbowe said Demba's family back in Gambia, including her mother and son, were in "great sorrow" but he didn't know if they would come to America.
In a search of the car investigators found a purse in the trunk that had no credit cards in it, but they could not confirm if the purse belonged to Demba or if it had contained credit cards.
A friend of Demba, Nakiesha Laville of Riverdale, went to Demba's house on Sunday to return some borrowed luggage and found the body.
Demba lived alone.
Officers on the scene reported a jewelry box was open on Demba's bed, items appeared to have been moved on a dresser and a chest of drawers had been moved away from the wall and its drawers were open.
Because of the decomposition of the body, police suspect she had died long before her body was found, Robinson said.