Trial of former probation officer accused in Houston killing planned for Monday

Hearing scheduled immediately prior to jury selection

bpurser@macon.comApril 26, 2013 

WARNER ROBINS -- The trial of a former state probation officer accused of killing his girlfriend is planned for Monday, though a hearing has been set immediately prior to jury selection.

Russell Holt, 29, is accused of fatally shooting Jessica Wolfe, 27, in his Ledford Way home last year. Wolfe was a legal assistant for the Houston County District Attorney’s Office.

Holt, who is free on bond, has pleaded not guilty to charges of malice murder, felony murder, aggravated assault and possession of a firearm during a crime. Holt, who lost his job as a probation officer after he was charged in the killing, says an intruder knocked him unconscious.

The trial is scheduled to begin Monday in Houston County Superior Court before Macon Judicial Circuit Judge Tripp Self. Houston County judges and prosecutors recused themselves from the case. The hearing is scheduled for 9:30 a.m., but the topic was not made public.

“No further information will be provided prior to that hearing,” stated Coweta Judicial Circuit District Attorney Peter J. Skandalakis, who is prosecuting the case, in a news release issued Friday.

Franklin J. Hogue, a Macon attorney representing Holt, could not be reached for comment.

Earlier ruling

Self previously ruled against moving the case outside of Houston County, or alternatively to a new location within Houston County, as sought by the defense.

Both the victim and accused worked in the Houston County Courthouse.

While the judge denied the change of venue prior to jury selection, he noted the defense could renew its request during voir dire if warranted. Voir dire is part of the jury selection process when the judge and attorneys ask potential jurors questions to determine if any juror is biased or unable to render a fair verdict.

It’s expected to take about a week to try the case.

During the early morning hours of March 18, 2012, police say Wolfe sent fearful text messages saying her boyfriend, Holt, wanted to choke her and had pushed her into a wall inside his home.

Within an hour of the last text message, a neighbor found a sobbing Holt in the front yard and discovered Wolfe lying on the kitchen floor.

Wolfe had been shot in the chest with what police believe was Holt’s service weapon, a .40 caliber Glock pistol, according to testimony in a 2012 court hearing.

Holt told police he and Wolfe had come in through the garage after drinking at bars with friends and that he was struck in the head and knocked unconscious by an intruder, according to court testimony. Holt said he next awoke in the front lawn of the residence.

To contact writer Becky Purser, call 256-9559.

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