Macon man accused of killing pregnant mistress testifies

Jurors are scheduled Thursday to begin deliberating the fate of a 28-year-old Macon man accused of fatally shooting his pregnant mistress.

Melvin Washington Jr. is charged with murder in the death of 24-year-old Tanisha Hardman. A man rummaging through trash at Cherry Tree Hill Apartments on Gray Highway discovered Hardman’s body Dec. 8, 2008.

Washington testified Wednesday that he wasn’t involved in Hardman’s death. He admitted to being romantically involved with her but said they were just friends in December 2008 at the time of her death.

“Still to this day she is a friend in my heart,” he said.

Washington said he found out about Hardman’s death while working at the Gray Highway Wal-Mart where Hardman also was an employee.

“I broke down right there,” he said.

Washington testified that he’d talked with Hardman by phone the night before her body was discovered, but he said he didn’t talk with her in person.

Horace Sanford III, Washington’s best friend and brother-in-law, testified that he gave Washington his gun in November 2008.

Sanford, who also is charged with murder in Hardman’s death, said he argued with his wife in November 2008 and brandished a gun. Afraid the police would take it from him, he gave it to Washington.

When deputies approached 28-year-old Sanford about the gun, he initially told them it had been stolen.

Sanford wept as he said he’s telling the truth now because he wants to go home to see his children.

He said he never asked Washington whether his gun was used in Hardman’s death.

“To me, he didn’t seem like that kind of person,” Sanford said.

He said he’s never gotten the gun back from Washington, and he denies having anything to do with Hardman’s death.

Sanford testified that Washington told him he was planning to meet with Hardman on Dec. 7, 2008, after she got off work.

Washington’s wife, Lashunda Washington, testified Tuesday that she and her husband lived at Cherry Tree Hill Apartments before they moved to Overlook Gardens Apartments on Gray Highway.

Another woman, Lisa Coleman, also testified Tuesday.

Coleman, 36, said she also worked at Wal-Mart and had a sexual relationship with Melvin Washington beginning in April or May 2008.

Lashunda Washington testified that she discovered she was pregnant in March 2008 and became aware of her husband’s affair with Coleman in October 2008.

From October 2008 until the birth of her child in early December 2008, Washington said her husband slept in the living room of their apartment while she slept in a bedroom.

She said she wasn’t aware of a second affair involving Hardman and her husband until after Hardman’s death.

Prosecutor Elizabeth Bobbitt told the jury in opening statements Monday that Melvin Washington had the motive to get rid of “a big problem” in his life created by Hardman’s pregnancy.

Washington’s lawyer, Mark Beberman, said the prosecution’s case is circumstantial and that there’s no direct evidence linking Washington to the killing.

Melissa Sims, the medical examiner who examined Hardman’s body, testified Wednesday that she found soot around the gunshot wound on the back of Hardman’s head. The soot shows the shot was fired with the muzzle of the gun within a few tenths of an inch of her head.

Sims said she found evidence of a pregnancy that had progressed between one and two weeks beyond embryo fertilization.

A forensic biologist testified she tried to test the embryo for DNA, but the embryo was too young.

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