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GBI: Glove led to suspect in arson-murder case

By Daniel Silliman

dsilliman@news-daily.com

Geneva Strickland was found bound to a bedpost in the back bedroom of her burned-out Jonesboro home, Georgia Bureau of Investigation Agent David Norman testified in court.

Sitting in the witness stand at a Magistrate Court probable cause hearing Thursday, Norman held his wrists together, showing how the woman was bound, leaned back and held them over his head.

"Plastic zip ties," the lawman continued, "with her wrists together and over her head."

The 68-year-old woman, who lived alone at 614 Fayetteville Road, also had her ankles tied together with zip ties and she had Ace bandages wrapped repeatedly around her face from her forehead to her chin.

On Halloween, police found her house on fire, and believe the fire was arson. They believe both the arson and murder were motivated by robbery. Strickland, officials say, was known to keep cash in her home and, according to her family, she was extra friendly with everyone, and probably considered her killer a friend.

A GBI medical examiner performed an autopsy and determined her death had been caused by asphyxiation, suffocation and carbon monoxide poisoning, Norman testified. The medical examiner unwrapped the layers and layers of bandages wrapped around Strickland's head and face and found a blue, latex glove.

"DNA was located in the glove and a full DNA profile was found," according to an arrest warrant application signed by Norman. The DNA, run through a state-wide database, matched with 41-year-old Timothy Alan Boothe, an eight-time felon, who was once in a romantic relationship with Strickland's niece and had done work for the older woman.

Boothe was arrested and faces charges of murder. He appeared confident at a preliminary hearing, giving family members a "thumbs up" when he walked, shackled, into the courtroom. Boothe, a man who has spelled his name several different ways and has used the alias "Karl Funk," has let his brown hair grow out in the county jail, and it stood up, uncombed, as he sat next to his defense attorney, Darrell B. Reynolds.

"Other than this DNA match, you have nothing else connecting Mr. Boothe to this murder, do you?" the attorney asked the GBI investigator.

"Not yet," the investigator said.

Before the probable cause hearing, Reynolds and the prosecutor spoke briefly, while Chief Magistrate Judge Daphne Walker signed off on waivers, lawyers spoke to clients in a holding cell, and members of both the victim's and the accused's families sat quietly in the court room.

"It's not going to take that long," Executive Chief Assistant District Attorney John Turner said of the hearing. "All we got is DNA."

"You got to have more than DNA," Reynolds said.

"No, we don't."

Reynolds pointed out, during the hearing, that Boothe knew Strickland, had been in her home, had worked for her, and had probably left DNA there while he was doing perfectly legal things.

"It's logical to see some of Mr. Boothe's DNA at the victim's house," he said. "It doesn't establish probable cause that Mr. Boothe committed the act he is accused of committing."

Turner said he believes the DNA goes a long way in convicting Boothe of murder, and Norman said the blue glove could not have ended up beneath the bandages "inadvertently."

The judge found the single piece of evidence did rise to the level of probable cause, and bound the case over to Superior Court, where Boothe will face indictment by a grand jury.

His next court date has not yet been set.