Perkins won’t stand trial for murder

Published 7:09 pm Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Outcome awaited in unrelated murder trial

A grand jury decided to drop a murder charge against a woman accused of robbing an elderly man who later died, according to court records.

Forty-year-old Carolyn Denise Perkins of Bainbridge had been charged in connection with the death of 85-year-old Gerald Woodward this past December at the KOA Campgrounds.

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A campground guest had called 911 to report that a man, later identified as Gerald Woodward, had collapsed after going to a neighbor’s trailer for help.

“Our preliminary investigation showed that [Woodward] was possibly the victim of a robbery in or around his RV trailer prior to collapsing,” BPS Chief Investigator Frank Green said, at the time.

Woodward passed away a short time later at Memorial Hospital.

Georgia Bureau of Investigation Agent Mike Walsingham presented the case to the grand jury last week. However, the grand jurors ultimately voted to drop the murder charge but continue prosecution of Perkins on the charge of robbery by sudden snatching.

District Attorney Joe Mulholland noted that he was not present when the grand jury voted to dismiss the murder charge.


Questions about what caused death

However, Mulholland said he believed the grand jury considered “special circumstances and factors” in the case which may have led them to their result. Although there was no evidence Perkins assaulted Woodward, generally speaking, persons who cause a person’s death while committing a felony can also be held responsible for the death, the district attorney said.

“There were issues as to the exact cause of [Woodward]’s death,” Mulholland said. “There were questions after the release of his autopsy … was it the shock of being robbed, or was it [the exertion of] running after [Perkins] that led to his death?”

Mulholland said evidence of a defendant’s criminal history is not allowed to be considered by a grand jury, but could play a factor if a jury were to find her guilty of robbing Woodward. Bainbridge Public Safety had identified Perkins as a suspect in two theft-by-taking cases reported in the week prior to Woodward’s death.

In addition, Perkins was convicted in Decatur County of cocaine possession and robbery from an incident in May 1991, and was later convicted in Decatur County of a robbery that happened on Dec. 24, 1997, according to a database maintained by the Georgia Department of Corrections. She served four stints in state prison on those convictions.


Verdict pending in fatal stabbing

Mulholland said closing arguments in the bench trial of 39-year-old Roderick Elliot Smith on the charge of murder had been completed Tuesday afternoon, although a result is still pending.

Smith is accused of fatally stabbing 31-year-old Trevis Ramonte Clemons of Attapulgus in March 2011.

Clemons, also known to his friends as Kente Campbell, was inside a private building located at 4434 Georgia 309 South that is used as a pool room and small kitchen, Sheriff’s Investigator Chip Nix said previously.

The building was owned by Clemons’ uncle, Lawrence Sapp of Attapulgus. Clemons and his relatives had gathered at the building after a funeral when the stabbing occurred.

According to Mulholland, Smith had left the game room to retrieve a cooker, some sausage and a knife from his residence and then returned.

“The state alleges Smith was extremely intoxicated, and he had even been asked to leave by Clemons before the altercation took place,” Mulholland said. “The defense’s position is that Smith and the victim were arguing with each other when [Clemons] became combative and Smith wielded the knife in self-defense.”

Mulholland said a lot of evidence was presented during the trial; the prosecution presented 61 pieces of evidence in all. Due to that fact, Superior Court Judge A. Wallace Cato — who will decide the case — has asked for time to review the evidence before rendering a verdict, Mulholland said.


Please see also:

Bainbridge woman charged with murder

Homicide suspect well-known to police

Suspect charged in Sunday stabbing death