A Macon man accused of dousing his ex-fiancee with gasoline and burning her to death pleaded guilty to murder and arson Tuesday.
Prosecutors had sought the death penalty against 36-year-old Jomekia Pope in the 2005 slaying of LaTosha Taylor. The 26-year-old woman died at an Augusta burn center 55 days after the Aug. 7, 2005, attack.
Jury selection in Popes trial was scheduled to begin Jan. 14 and last four to six weeks.
In Georgia, defendants can withdraw a guilty plea anytime before sentencing. Therefore, jurors still will report to the Bibb County Courthouse as scheduled on Monday, said David Cooke, district attorney for the Macon Judicial Circuit.
At Popes Monday sentencing hearing, he could be sent to prison for life with or without the possibility of parole.
Cooke said his offices No. 1 goal was to get justice for Taylor and her family through a conviction.
By entering into an agreement, weve secured that goal, he said. It was the right thing to do.
Members of both Popes and Taylors family attended the Tuesday afternoon plea hearing in Bibb County Superior Court.
Popes case is the oldest active capital case being prosecuted in Bibb County. Its been delayed by lawyer reassignments, scheduling conflicts, a re-indictment in 2007, and a restructuring of how Georgia chooses prospective jury pools.
When interviewed last summer, Taylors family and friends said she had confided in them about concerns she had about Pope.
Things werent adding up, the things he was saying and the things he wanted out of life just werent adding up to his actions, her mother said.
Police and court records showed a history of domestic violence involving Pope and Taylor.
On Nov. 27, 2004, Taylor told Pope to leave the house after theyd argued. He returned and forced his way into the house.
At the time, Taylor told police that Pope pushed her into a wall, making a large hole. She also said he struck her in the face and pulled her hair.
Bibb County State Court records show that Pope pleaded guilty in April 2005 to family-violence-related battery against Taylor and criminal trespass from an incident involving Taylor.
A judge initially ordered Pope to get domestic violence counseling. But his sentence was changed to a year in the Bibb County jail Sept. 27, 2005, four days before Taylor died.
Information from Telegraph archives was used in this report. To contact writer Amy Leigh Womack, call 744-4398.