Delayed Justice: Breaking down the Jeffrey Peacock case

Delayed Justice: Breaking down the Jeffrey Peacock case
Jonathan Edwards, Alicia Norman, Jones Pidcock, Reid Williams, and Jordan Croft. (Source: Facebook)
Jonathan Edwards, Alicia Norman, Jones Pidcock, Reid Williams, and Jordan Croft. (Source: Facebook)

MOULTRIE, GA (WALB) - Next month, a Colquitt County grand jury will hear the case of one of South Georgia's most brutal crimes.

But since then, he's been granted bond, as an indictment has not been handed down.

It was May 15, 2016 when this 911 call was made to Colquitt County Dispatchers.

Dispatch: What's your emergency?

The caller was 25-year-old Jeffrey Peacock. Five days later the GBI would arrest him on charges of murdering his friends, and then torching the house. Jonathan Edwards, Alicia Norman, Jones Pidcock, Reid Williams, and Jordan Croft had all been shot death.

"One the most heinous crimes"

District Attorney Brad Shealey says it's one of worst crimes he's come across of a prosecutor.

"It certainly is one the most heinous crimes we've had in the recent history," he said.

But nine months into the investigation, the case has still not gone before a grand jury. In October 2016, a judge issued Peacock a $1 million bond. He remains jail in Colquitt County but many questioned how the option was even brought to the table.

"Under the law in Georgia, if an individual is in jail for 90 days, and they do not have a bond, they're entitled to a bond."

What's taking so long?

Shealy says the delays in the case are due to the mounds of evidence retrieved during the course of the investigation.

"Investigating this case, you had an arson investigation, a murder investigation, you had five autopsies. You had lab reports, and toxicology reports to compile. A lot of investigations conducted by the GBI and the Colquitt County Sheriff's Office," Shealey said.

"It's not like CSI, where they run a report and get it in 15 minutes or so."

In the months since the crime, the GBI in Thomasville has released few details in the case. Little is known about what links Peacock to the murders, other than his past relationship with the victims.

What is known is that Peacock was prematurely discharged from the Marines in 2012. A champion marksman in high school, he was never deployed, and was assigned to electronic maintenance.

Investigators say on the morning of the murders, he went to a Hardee's restaurant in Moultrie, before returning to the home on Rossman Dairy Road where his friends bodies were burning inside.

If indicted, the crime could carry the death penalty.

Is Shealey considering trying this as a death penalty case?

"It's certainly something that will be looked at. But there's been no decision made on that case," Shealey said.

If capital punishment is sought, it would be one of the first death penalty cases tried in the state Georgia in the past three years. The last two in Dougherty County ended with the defendants taking pleas for life in prison without parole.

"Ultimately, I try to get input from the victim's family, of how they want things to go. So it's a number of things that go into this decision making process as to number one – seeking the death penalty, and number two - how it's ultimately resolved.

But death penalty cases often linger for years in the courts. In the case of Marcus Ray Johnson, who was charged in a brutal 1994 rape and murder of Albany woman, it was more than 20 years before he died by lethal injection.

The number of death penalty cases has been on the decline since the state changed how felony murder cases can be tried, in 2009.

"Before that time you had to pursue the death penalty in order to have the option for a jury to give the sentence of life without parole. In other words, for me to get life without parole, I had to seek death."

In the case of Jeffrey Peacock, the judicial process is just beginning. As the family of the victims await answers and justice for the deaths of five young adults.

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