Retaliatory shooting cost Macon woman her life, prosecutor says

awomack@macon.comFebruary 6, 2014 

It was late at night after the 2008 Super Bowl.

Gwendolyn Cole, a 55-year-old widow, answered a knock at the door of her home on Bradstone Circle, off Millerfield Road in east Macon.

A man at the door asked for her son, but her son wasn’t home.

Moments later, Cole’s home was bombarded by bullets fired from assault rifles. Police estimated as many as 70 shots pierced the house.

Cole sustained several gunshot wounds in the fusillade and died.

More details of the killing emerged Thursday, six years later, as one of two men charged in the case requested bond.

The Rev. Ronald Terry stood beside 34-year-old Marlon S. Jackson and spoke on his behalf during the court hearing at the Bibb County jail.

Terry described Jackson, a member of his congregation, as a loving father with a supportive family.

Before the shooting, Jackson had regularly attended church with his wife and children.

“I don’t usually stick my neck out too much on folk, but I sure kind of stick my neck out on him because I just seriously believe that, according to all things considered, that he may not have committed this crime,” Terry said.

Prosecutor Sandra Matson described Jackson and his co-defendant, 36-year-old Benjamin Finney, as drug dealers at the time of Cole’s slaying.

She said a chain of events, including multiple shootouts, led to Cole’s death.

It all started when a group of people invaded Finney’s home, tied up his female friend and took $100,000 at gunpoint, Matson said.

“Mr. Finney was extremely mad about that and decided he would take vengeance and justice,” she said.

Soon, a truck was set on fire in the middle of the night. Then shots were fired into a house, injuring a woman. Ballistic evidence from that shooting matched evidence from Cole’s home, Matson said.

The prosecutor said Finney thought the house was the wrong target, though, and he turned his attention to Cole’s son, Alfonso “B.J.” Rose Jr.

Rose was “running dope” for Finney, and Finney thought the home invasion had been an “inside job,” she said.

On Feb. 3, 2008, the night of the Super Bowl, Finney and Rose fought. Finney pulled a gun on Rose, snatched a necklace from his neck and pistol-whipped him.

The next morning, Rose and his friends drove by houses owned by Jackson and his brothers in east Macon and fired shots into them in retaliation, she said.

Later that day, several men were “hanging out” when Rose and his friends drove by, and a shootout ensued, Matson said.

Later that night, about 10 p.m., Cole answered her front door.

A family member has said she was on the phone with her ex-husband when the shots rang out.

A federal wiretap yielded a conversation between Jackson and Finney in which they talked about the assault rifles that prosecutors contend were used to shoot up Cole’s house, Matson said.

Jackson was sent to federal prison for two years on gun charges. Finney was sentenced to 70 months for drug and gun charges.

Jackson talked about the killing during his time in prison. His fellow inmates have come forward and are expected to testify when the murder case goes to trial, Matson said.

Judge Tripp Self paused for a few moments before announcing that he wouldn’t set a bond for Jackson.

Matson said she hopes the case will go to trial this summer.

Finney is being held without bond at the Jones County jail.

To contact writer Amy Leigh Womack, call 744-4398.

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