Rockdale jury finds Rabon guilty of murder, rape in 2008 incident

Travis Santell Rabon

Travis Santell Rabon

CONYERS -- Travis Rabon faces a sentence of life without parole after a Rockdale County jury found him guilty on 10 of 12 charges against him including murder of one woman and the rape of another in 2008.

The jury of six women and eight men, which included two alternate jurors, delivered their verdicts shortly before 8 p.m. Tuesday after about four hours of deliberation.

Rabon, 24, was found guilty of malice and felony murder in the death of Keria Rachell Avant and the rape and aggravated assault of another woman in his apartment in the Lake St. James apartment complex off McDaniel Mill Road on Dec. 29, 2008.

The jury gave not guilty verdicts on charges of rape and aggravated assault of Avant. The remaining charges pertained to the other woman and also included kidnapping, aggravated sodomy and aggravated battery.

According to testimony, Avant went to Rabon's apartment that day to pick up some money. Three women she traveled with stayed in the car while Avant met with Rabon inside the apartment.

Investigators said Rabon asked for sex, Avant refused and he beat and raped her. Avant died from strangulation. A cord was found on Avant's body and identified as the murder weapon by investigators and prosecutors. Rabon said in his testimony he did not know how the cord got on Avant's neck nor could he explain how she died.

A companion walked up to the apartment door to check on Avant and was pulled in by Rabon. She was also beaten and raped, according to the initial incident reports.

Rabon testified his actions were in self defense and that the women came to his apartment with the intent to rob him. However, it was unclear from Rabon what was being sought. First, he said it was money, but later he said it was nearly a pound of marijuana he had in his bedroom closet.

Superior Court Judge David Irwin said a sentencing hearing for Rabon will be scheduled soon.

In other news, the Rabon trial was among a number of court cases involving serious crimes that were delayed last year, in part, due to the county's Jury Commission having to revise the jury box.

Superior Court Judge Sidney Nation, the judicial circuit's senior judge, ordered a moratorium on all jury trials in April to allow the Jury Commission to revise the jury box to reflect the demographic make up of the county based on the 2010 U.S. Census.

Trials restarted in June, and Nation added another week to the criminal trial calendar each month in order to catch up on the backlog of cases.

Rockdale County District Attorney Richard Read said the work has gone smoothly in January and he looks to have all of the murder trials completed by late spring.

The next murder case scheduled for trial in March involves William and Madea Stewart, who are co-defendants in connection with the death of their 5-month-old son in 2010.

Also, the murder case against sisters Jasmiyah and Tasmiyah Whitehead, accused of killing their mother in their Conyers home in 2010, could reach trial by the spring. Read said motions could push the trial date to later in the year.

Read added that the county has been fortunate to not have recorded a murder indictment since the death of 2-year-old Cayden Allen on April 11, 2011.