Palmetto woman pleads guilty to murder

COVINGTON -- The murder trial of a Palmetto woman who was accused of killing and burning the body of an Atlanta man in Newton County with the help of two others ended early when she entered a guilty plea.

On Thursday, the third day of the trial, Candice Cadasha Pope, 30, of Palmetto, entered a plea of guilty to malice murder, making false statements and concealing the death of another. Her felony murder charge merged as a matter of law with malice murder, according to the Newton County District Attorney's Office.

She 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 Newton County near the Rockdale County line in late December 2009.

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

Kurtz said they attempted to rob Hall by luring him out of an Atlanta bar and rushing his car, but found no money, They put Hall in the trunk of his own car, and Coleman shot him when he tried to break free while driving 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 showed the three withdrawing money from Hall's bank accounts and using his bank cards after the murder up until Jan. 5.

On Thursday in the courtroom of Newton County Superior Court Judge Eugene M. Benton, Pope received a sentence of life with the possibility of parole for malice murder, five years of concurrent confinement for making false statements and 10 years concurrent confinement for concealing the death. She will be eligible for parole in 30 years.

Pope was the first of the three defendants to be tried. Coleman and Hambrick are both in custody awaiting trial and she is expected to testify against them.