Grandson indicted in arson, murder case

By Linda Looney-Bond


A Clayton County grand jury has indicted a Hampton man, who allegedly suffers from mental illness, in the May 2008 killing of his grandfather.

The indictment, handed down Wednesday, charges Herbert George Ledford, III, 24, with shooting to death Jack Uselton, 67, of Fayetteville.

Ledford has a history of bipolar disorder and "severe mental episodes," according to court records.

In the application for an arrest warrant on May 23, 2008, police said Ledford had been talking to himself, and acting depressed.

The shooting occurred when Uselton went to Ledford's home at 11991 Panhandle Road in Hampton. Police allege that, at some point during the visit, Ledford shot Uselton twice -- once in the head and the shoulder -- started a fire "to destroy evidence," and fled the scene.

Clayton County firefighters responded to the scene of the fire, put out the blaze, and discovered "the body of a white male ... in the bathroom shower stall, face down ... in a pool of blood."

Ledford is charged with murder, aggravated assault, arson and possession of a firearm.

Ledford's attorney, Lee Sexton, said Thursday, "He [Ledford] is not guilty of the murder charge due to his mental incapacity. There's going to be a special plea entered at the time of his arraignment. It'll be a special plea of insanity," said Sexton.

During a probable cause hearing in June 2008, Clayton County Police Detective Stephen Rotella described Ledford as "disconnected," talking to himself, laughing at nothing, and fearful of "someone in the basement."

Rotella is certified with the state's Peace Officer Standards and Training Council to deal with mental-health cases, and he said Ledford seems to suffer from delusions and paranoia.

Clayton County District Attorney Tracy Graham Lawson declined to comment on the case.

Ledford is being held in the Clayton County jail without bond.

No arraignment date has been set. Lawson said she anticipates it will take place some time in May, before Clayton County Superior Court Judge Albert Collier.