MOULTRIE — The prosecution continued building its timeline Tuesday morning into the deaths of five people three years ago.
Jeffery Alan Peacock is accused of killing Jonathan Garrett Edwards, Ramsey Jones Pidcock and Aaron Reid Williams, all 21; Alicia Brooke Norman, 20; and Jordan Shane Croft, 22 — then setting their house on fire to cover up the crime.
In the second day of testimony, three people were called to the stand to discuss the Friday and Saturday that preceded the fire on Sunday morning, May 15, 2016. Two of them were friends of both the deceased and Peacock; the third didn’t know them but served to place one of the other witnesses at a particular place at a certain time.
Mika Snipes, who was particularly close to Norman, said all of them — the victims, Peacock, herself and others —were at the 505 Rossman Dairy Road residence on Friday night. She said all were drinking, doing cocaine and smoking marijuana.
“We were up all night,” she said, except that Norman went to bed earlier because she had to work the next day. Snipes said she probably went home around 4 or 5 Saturday morning.
She said Edwards and Norman, who were boyfriend and girlfriend, and Williams lived in the house, but from testimony throughout the trial, it wasn’t uncommon for other members of the group to stay overnight.
She said she returned to the house sometime the next day, probably after lunch. When she arrived, she was arguing with her mother on the phone as she walked in the house, and that woke Williams and Peacock.
She said she didn’t stay long. Norman came home while she was there, and both women left separately soon afterwards.
Snipes said she stayed at home most of the afternoon because her car was in the shop. Later, Williams and Peacock picked her up in Peacock’s truck, she said, and they went back to the house.
That night, she was on the porch with Peacock, Williams and Edwards. Norman had already gone to bed. Pidcock and Croft arrived after spending the day on the river. Snipes said Pidcock lay down in a chair in the living room and very soon went to sleep.
Saturday’s get-together was very calm, she said. There were only about 12 beers between them and nobody had any money for more. She said Peacock took her home about midnight, and Edwards and Norman were already in bed when she left.
Snipes said she lived maybe five minutes away on Rondo Gay Road.
She didn’t stay home long, though. She asked her grandmother if she could use her car to go to Alicia Norman’s. With permission she took it, but she drove to a residence on Schley Church Road, where she spent the night with a different group of people.
Joni Parker was one of them. She didn’t know Snipes, and she said she was asleep when Snipes arrived. Parker guessed it was about 2 a.m. Parker said she got up about 8 a.m. and found Snipes asleep on the couch. Parker estimated Snipes left the residence about 9:30 a.m. Sunday.
During Snipes’ testimony, she said she had told the GBI “untruthful things” about that Sunday morning. She said she told the GBI she had been back out to the Rossman Dairy Road house that morning because she didn’t want to get caught in the lie she told her grandmother.
In addition, she said she was under the influence of methamphetamine when she spoke with the GBI agent. She said she called him back the next day and arranged for a second interview to clarify and correct what she’d said at first.
“My days got messed up,” she said on the witness stand. “Everything was running together. I was just talking.”
Snipes said she’s been clean of drugs for two years now and is in training to be a veterinary technician.
Ben Littleton was there Friday night too. In his testimony he affirmed he was drinking but not doing cocaine — he said he was trying to get in the military at the time. He thought Snipes was there, but he couldn’t recall whether Peacock was or not.
That was the night, he said, that Edwards wanted the friends to vote on whether to continue to allow Peacock to be with them.
Peacock had formerly lived in the house on Rossman Dairy Road, but Edwards had established a “no drugs” rule, according to Snipes, who said Peacock had broken the rule and was kicked out.
Littleton remembered Peacock being kicked out and thought it had to do with drug use, but he didn’t remember details.
Snipes described how everyone except Edwards, Norman and Williams were kicked out of the house, but how they let everyone back into their circle. Peacock was the last to be accepted back.
Littleton testified Edwards approached him that Friday night about shutting Peacock out again because of his use of Spice and other drugs. He said there was a vote to separate ties — which he implied was unanimous — but he didn’t know if anyone ever told Peacock about it.
Defense attorney Jerry Word asked Littleton when he told anyone about this secret vote. Littleton said he’d told his mother shortly after the fire, but it was only last week when he shared it with law enforcement, after his mother reminded him of it.
On Monday, Prosecutors had a question for Jeffery Alan Peacock: Why’d he change clothes?
In an interview recorded about 10:30 that morning and played for the court on Monday, Peacock told Colquitt County Sheriff’s Office Investigator Mike Murfin that he and his five friends had been drinking the night before. They all went to bed around 11 p.m. or midnight, he said, and they got up around 7 or 7:30 a.m.
Peacock told Murfin he had left that morning to get some cigarettes and to buy breakfast for everyone. Everyone else was watching a show on Netflix.
“I got back and the house was fully engulfed in flames,” Peacock said on the recording. “Nobody was outside.”
Checking Peacock’s story, Murfin acquired copies of security videos from businesses between the residence and Hardee’s, where Peacock bought breakfast. In his testimony Monday, Murfin noted the time stamps on the videos as Peacock’s truck was caught by their cameras.
The green Chevrolet pickup was first seen eastbound at Circle N Petro at 8:03 a.m., and its progress could be tracked as it passed EZ Corner on West Central Avenue, The Best Little Store in Georgia on West Central, American Pawn on First Street Southeast and Walgreen’s across Veterans Parkway from Hardee’s.
The camera in Hardee’s drive-through took a good video of him placing his order. In it, he’s wearing a green shirt with white lettering and khaki shorts.
Then the security cameras tracked him as he made his way back along the same path toward the residence. Time stamps on the last images are a little awkward with him passing Best Little Store at 8:27 a.m., EZ Corner at 8:28 a.m. and Circle N at 8:27 a.m. No one speculated on why those times didn’t line up.
Missing from that, though, was a trip to BP Riverbend, another convenience store along the route. That’s where Peacock told Murfin he’d bought Marlboro 27 cigarettes on his way back from getting breakfast at Hardee’s.
Michael Cox, now a lieutenant with the Moultrie Police Department, was also a sheriff’s office investigator at the time of the fire. Part of his job in this investigation was to go through videos from Circle N and Riverbend to see when Peacock bought the cigarettes. On Monday he testified he watched recordings time-stamped from 6:30 to 9:30 the morning of the fire at Riverbend and 6:30 a.m. to 9 a.m. at Circle N without ever seeing Peacock.
On top of that, Cox said the clerk at Riverbend told him no Marlboro 27s were sold that morning.
Peacock was the third of three callers to 911 about the fire. Recordings of all three were played for the court, and the dispatcher kept Peacock on the line until he could hear sirens.
Sheriff’s Deputy Cody Green testified he was dispatched at 8:31 a.m. and arrived at about 8:40. He was the first officer on the scene and Peacock was standing in the yard, visibly distraught.
The house was engulfed in flames, Green said, and it was horribly hot. He put Peacock in the back of his patrol car with the air conditioner turned up all the way so that he could cool off and calm down.
Max Demott testified he drove by the scene and shot a video on his cell phone as he passed. At the urging of a friend who used to work for the sheriff’s department, he turned over a copy to investigators.
The video was entered into evidence at Monday’s trial because it shows something that seemed odd in retrospect: Peacock was standing by his pickup in a gray sleeveless shirt and cargo shorts. That’s the same outfit he was wearing when he spoke with Murfin a couple of hours later.
Where were the green shirt and khaki shorts he was wearing at Hardee’s?
That answer came the next day.
The Georgia Bureau of Investigation applied for and received a search warrant on the afternoon of the 15th, but it covered the house, the grounds and all the vehicles there. They brought in technicians from other regions and area sheriff’s offices sent people to help, but it was still a big job. It was Monday, the 16th, before investigators could go through Peacock’s truck.
Amy Braswell, a crime scene specialist for the GBI, was in charge of collecting evidence, and she was helped by a Colquitt County Sheriff’s Office investigator when she went into Peacock’s truck.
The investigator found a green shirt sticking up from between a large speaker box and the seat of the pickup truck, Braswell said in her testimony Monday. The khaki shorts were found immediately thereafter in the same place.
Both had red stains that investigators thought might be blood.
Braswell packaged samples of the material to be tested to see if it was blood and if so, whose, as well as other samples to be tested for the presence of accelerants that might have been used to start the fire. Accelerants are flammable substances, like gasoline or kerosene, that can help a fire catch hold, and their presence would strongly point toward the fire being arson.
Testimony on Monday did not give the results of those tests.
The results of another GBI Crime Lab test were disclosed, though.
During cross-examination of state fire investigator Don Allen, defense attorney Jerry Word asked if it was true the GBI had found no trace of accelerants in samples Allen had submitted from the fire scene. Allen acknowledged it was true. Word said that meant either all the accelerant burned up or it was never there to begin with, and Allen had to agree that was right.
Superior Court Judge James Hardy is hearing Peacock’s case as a bench trial, which means there’s no jury.