By Kathy Jefcoats
JONESBORO — Prosecutors allege Marshae Hickman lured a Forest Park teenager into the woods, stabbed her to keep her quiet about a previous assault, covered her body with a nearby discarded mattress and went home.
During an interview with Clayton County police detectives Oct. 21, 2011, Hickman said the scenario is possible.
"I feel sorry for what happened, something happened, I don't know," said Hickman. "It's possible I could have done it but I don't remember." Later, Hickman told officers, "I might've blacked out, I don't know."
Hickman, 21, is on trial this week in Clayton County Superior Court for murder and other felonies in the April 2010 stabbing death of Candice Parchment, 15. Parchment went missing and her body recovered about seven months later in the woods between her home and Hickman's home at the time.
The Georgia Bureau of Investigation medical examiner who performed the autopsy took the stand Wednesday as one of the state's last witnesses. Under direct examination by Clayton County Deputy Chief Assistant District Attorney Bill Dixon, Steven Atkinson said that the remains were nearly skeletonized. Atkinson said the bones were boiled to remove tissue to determine the cause of death.
As Atkinson began his testimony, Parchment's mother, Caffian Hyatt, and Hyatt's boyfriend, Glenn Christopher, left the courtroom and did not return until he left the stand.
Atkinson testified that the total weight of the remains was about 25 pounds, including the clothes. He identified a photo of the bones laid on a table from the skull down to the tibia or shin bones. Technicians recovered the bulk of the bones except for the feet, likely the only part of the body exposed from under the mattress for seven months.
During Hickman's interview with police, he told detectives that he returned to the dump site the morning after, three days later and then after the body was recovered the day before Thanksgiving 2010. Hickman seemed unsettled by the thought he may have killed someone, said Clayton County police Capt. Richard Gandee.
"He told us that he saw feet, shoes sticking out from under the mattress when he went to the dumpster," said Gandee from the stand Wednesday. "I knew there was no way to see the mattress from the dumpster area. He told us he went to check on her to see if she was still under there the next morning."
Despite his unwillingness to admit he himself may have killed the girl, there is no record that Hickman called police to report a body found in the woods under a mattress, according to testimony.
Atkinson eventually ruled that Parchment died from a single stab wound to her chest, based on his examination of the bones.
"She died from a sharp force injury at the base of her sternum," said Atkinson. "No other bones had injuries. A stab wound is what led to her death."
Atkinson acknowledged under cross-examination by defense attorney Ashley Palmer that he has no way of knowing what caused the injury.
"A knife is most likely," he said. "But sometimes an ax or hatchet, scissors or a broken glass bottle can all cause similar type sharp force trauma."
Previous testimony showed that Parchment told Hyatt and Christopher Jan. 5, 2010, that two teenagers tried to rape her by hitting her in the head and blocking her exit from an abandoned house. Too scared to go to police, the girl wrote an account of the alleged attack in her diary, identifying the two as Hickman and Jermaine Christopher Robinson.
But it wasn't until a year after her body was found that Hyatt discovered the diary during a move. Hickman was in the Clayton County Jail on a burglary charge when detectives interviewed him. He and Robinson, 18, have been charged with false imprisonment, aggravated assault, battery and attempt to commit a crime in connection with the January 2010 alleged assault on Parchment.
Robinson has not been implicated in Parchment's death.