WARNER ROBINS -- Charges of murder, aggravated assault, aggravated battery and possession of a knife during a crime have been dropped against a Warner Robins man.
Erik Mize, 37, is currently serving a life sentence for an unrelated sexual assault.
The arrest in the sexual assault led to him being charged with murder in the stabbing death of Felicia L. Hardman. The 29-year-old mother of two was killed inside her Vernon Drive home off South Pleasant Hill Road on Aug. 1, 2006.
The charges against Mize in connection with Hardmans death were dismissed Friday afternoon.
There is insufficient evidence at this time to prove (Mizes) guilt beyond a reasonable doubt, the dismissal notice states. Some evidence has previously been suppressed by the court, and certain items of physical evidence have not yet been analyzed by the GBI crime laboratory.
Because there is no statute of limitations for the offense of murder, District Attorney George Hartwig reserves the right to present the case to the grand jury for consideration should additional evidence come to light at some point in the future.
The dismissal notice was filed Friday afternoon.
I think the actions of the district attorney are in the best interest of justice, said Burt Baker, a supervising attorney with the Georgia Capital Conflict Office who represented Mize in the murder case. I salute his courage in doing the right thing.
The evidence previously suppressed relates to statements made by Mize to law enforcement officers that were suppressed in relation to the sexual assault trial and could not be introduced as a matter of law had the murder trial proceeded,Baker said.
The physical evidence that has not been processed relates to DNA evidence, Baker said. He declined to elaborate on Mizes statements or the physical evidence.
Hartwig could not be reached for comment. Daniel P. Bibler, the deputy chief assistant district attorney assigned to the murder case, referred comment to Hartwig.
Mize was convicted of the Aug. 14, 2006 sexual assault of a woman in her home in the Corder Road area. He was sentenced to life in prison after being convicted by a jury of rape, aggravated assault, aggravated sodomy and kidnapping.
The assault took place 13 days after Hardmans murder.
The rape victim identified Mize, who was arrested at his home at 436 Woodland Drive a few hours after the assault, police said in 2006. Through the sexual assault investigation, police learned that Mize also knew Hardman.
A notice to seek the death penalty for Mize in Hardmans murder was withdrawn July 11, 2012, after an agreement was reached between the prosecution and the defense. The agreement called for the death penalty to come off the table in exchange for a sentence of life in prison without the possibility of parole or life in prison with the possibility of parole if convicted at trial.
The case was inherited by Hartwig, who was sworn in as district attorney in December 2010.
To contact writer Becky Purser, call 256-9559.