Palmetto woman's murder trial begins

COVINGTON -- The felony murder trial against a Palmetto woman who is alleged to have killed and burned an Atlanta man in Newton County with the help of two others began Tuesday in Newton County Superior Court.

Candice Cadasha Pope, 30, is charged with malice murder, felony murder, making a false statement and concealing the death of another. The case is being heard by Newton County Superior Court Judge Eugene M. Benton.

Pope was arrested in early 2010, along with Jordan Michael Coleman, 21, and Brandon Hambrick, 20, both of DeKalb County, in connection with the death of 44-year-old Alvin Hall, of Atlanta.

Hall's burned body and vehicle were found on McGiboney Lane in western Newton County near the Rockdale County line in late December 2009.

Newton County Assistant District Attorney Anne Kurtz alleged during opening statements Tuesday that Pope, Coleman and Hambrick developed a plan to rob Hall after he gave Pope $50 earlier in the month.

After they attempted to rob Hall by luring him out of an Atlanta bar and rushing his car but found no money, Kurtz said that Coleman shot Hall when he tried to break free from the trunk of his car while they drove around Atlanta.

Kurtz said that the three then drove to Newton County to an undeveloped subdivision to burn his body and car, leaving it for police to find later.

She said video surveillance shows the three withdrawing money from Hall's bank accounts and using his bank cards after the murder until Jan. 5.

Defense attorney James Studdard told jury members that Pope was not with the two men when Hall was killed, but Hambrick later told her the story about the robbery and shooting in Atlanta.

"This case is so full of circumstantial evidence," Studdard told jurors, adding that they would not be able to convict Pope beyond a reasonable doubt.

Both Coleman and Hambrick remain in custody on the same murder charges.

Hambrick is expected to be one of more than 30 witnesses to testify for the state this week. Kurtz told the judge that no deals have been made with him for his testimony.

The trial is expected to continue this week at the Newton County Courthouse.


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