Bibb prosecutors seeking death penalty in manager’s slaying

Accomplice expected to plead to life without parole

Telegraph staffMay 8, 2013 

Jones_Death_Penalty

Bibb County District Attorney David Cooke announces during a news conference Wednesday that his office will pursue the death penalty for Tracy Michelle Jones in the murder of Gail Spencer.

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Held hostage in her house on a Friday last fall, Gail Spencer had apparently done all she could to stay alive.

Under duress and at gunpoint inside her tidy, two-bedroom home with yellow siding, Spencer did what she was told.

The 58-year-old grandmother, an office manager at a law firm less than a mile away on Macon’s Vineville Avenue, complied with the demands of her assailants.

Two men and two women, one of them a co-worker, are said to have seized on Spencer’s knowledge of wire transfers and forced her to help them steal an estimated $1.3 million from the law firm’s accounts.

After Spencer did that -- and after prosecutors say she was ordered to perform a sex act on one of the intruders, a teenager named Michael Brett Kelly -- it still wasn’t enough.

At the end of the hours-long ordeal, Kelly, 19, went into Spencer’s room with a trash bag to suffocate her, a source familiar with the case has said.

That’s when another intruder, 23-year-old Keith Anthony Dozier, heard Spencer’s pleading last words: “You promised, you promised, you promised.”

Spencer was later found dead in the house. Word of her killing rattled neighbors and locals alike. The investigation into her death soon pointed to the Pinkston & Associates law firm where she worked.

One of her office mates, Tracy Michelle Jones, 38, now faces the death penalty if convicted of Spencer’s Oct. 5 murder, according to a notice filed Wednesday in Bibb County Superior Court.

“It was an outrageously vile and horrible crime, and its effects will linger on Ms. Spencer’s family and our community for years to come,” Bibb County District Attorney David Cooke said at a news conference.

Jones has been singled out by prosecutors as the alleged mastermind of the embezzlement scheme -- which involved wire transfers deposited into the suspects’ bank accounts -- to siphon money from the Pinkston firm’s accounts.

The scheme allegedly was hatched to keep Spencer out of the office, captive in her home, and to get information from her so the money could be transferred.

Jones, a source said, was at work at the law office while Spencer was being held hostage. Jones had worked at other Macon-area firms in recent years.

A fuller picture of what happened during Spencer’s final hours in her home at 3475 Stinsonville Road likely will emerge Monday.

Documents should be filed then in the murder case against Kelly, who is expected to plead guilty and testify against Jones in exchange for a life-without-parole prison sentence.

Kelly, who lived with Jones in a south Bibb apartment, has been described by a source familiar with the case as someone with “no conscience. He’s a reptile. ... He acted that way early on -- then he cracked.”

It hasn’t been divulged what led police to zero in on the murder suspects, the fourth of whom is Kelly’s half-sister, Courtney Nicole Kelly, 23.

“What they did to that lady, they ought to get the electric chair,” a local cop told a Telegraph reporter in the days after Spencer’s death.

The financial fallout from the alleged plot has taken months to untangle.

Proceeds from four loan closings were part of the money stolen from Pinkston & Associates.

Lawyers representing the Pinkston firm’s title insurer took the firm to court last year and argued about how the more than $1 million recovered would be divvied to satisfy the loans. All but about $69,000 of the missing money was recovered and returned to Pinkston’s account.

Although the firm had taken in money to settle the four loan closings, the money had not been sent to lenders by the time the alleged embezzlement occurred. As a result, people who already had sold their homes were still making payments on their old mortgages to protect their credit.

The lenders have now been paid and the loans have been satisfied, attorney Calder Pinkston, who runs the firm, said last week.

Information from Telegraph archives was used in this story.

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