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Prosecution moves ahead in traffic death

CONYERS -- A man facing felony murder charges is scheduled to appear in Rockdale Superior Court next week, despite the fact that he is still at large.

Torrence Sanders, 22, of Avondale Estates, is believed to have been in the car that crashed into the vehicle of a Newton County woman in February. The woman died of injuries sustained in the crash.

According to the Rockdale County Sheriff's Office, Sanders and 21-year-old Ntyono Aaron Oketo Pennie robbed a group of mens at gunpoint on Feb. 23 on Harvest Grove Lane in an apartment complex on Iris Drive. One victim was shot in the arm as Sanders and Pennie made away with $500. The suspects tried to elude law enforcement after the heist, fleeing toward Salem Road, according to RCSO incident reports. The suspects' car ran a red light and dodged several cars at the Salem Road-Flat Shoals Road intersection, but then crashed into another vehicle in a pharmacy parking lot. The vehicle was occupied by 56-year-old Shirley Akins of Covington. Akins was taken to the hospital after the crash where she later died from her injuries.

Sanders faces a total of 21 criminal and traffic charges, including two felony murder charges.

Sanders is scheduled to appear before Rockdale County Chief Superior Court Judge Sidney Nation Thursday morning for arraignment.

Thought active warrants remain for Sanders, Rockdale County Chief Assistant District Attorney Bob Houman explained Sanders has already been indicted as a co-dependent.

"At this point, it's gone before a grand jury," Houman said.

If Sanders is not present Thursday, state prosecutors will ask the judge to issue a bench warrant.

"The bottom line is we need to get him arrested," Houman said.

RCSO officials said the case is still an active investigation.

Pennie was arrested Feb. 23 and remains in Rockdale County Jail without bond, charged with murder, three counts of aggravated assault, three counts of armed robbery, possession of a firearm during the commission of a crime, obstruction of a law enforcement officer and possession of marijuana less than 1 ounce.

Pennie will also have an arraignment hearing Thursday morning.