Crime

Man who heard fatal shooting: ‘She was screaming’

Son talks about threat he received before his mother was killed

Alphonso Rose Jr. testified Tuesday, Nov. 1, 2016, in the murder trial for Benjamin Finney, one of two men charged with murder in the 2008 Bibb County fatal shooting of Rose's mother, Gwendolyn Cole, at her home in east Macon.
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Alphonso Rose Jr. testified Tuesday, Nov. 1, 2016, in the murder trial for Benjamin Finney, one of two men charged with murder in the 2008 Bibb County fatal shooting of Rose's mother, Gwendolyn Cole, at her home in east Macon.

Alfonso Rose Sr. heard the shots strike his ex-wife, Gwendolyn Cole, as bullets from assault rifles tore through her east Macon home in 2008.

He’d been on the phone with Cole for about 45 minutes. They were concerned about their son, Alfonso “B.J.” Rose Jr.

There was a knock at the door, and Cole told Rose to “hold on” while she walked to the door with the phone in her hand, Rose testified Wednesday at the trial for Benjamin Finney, one of two men charged with murder in Cole’s Feb. 4, 2008, shooting. Testimony in Finney’s trial began Tuesday in Bibb County Superior Court.

Rose said he heard the person at the door identify himself as Wayne and ask if B.J. was home.

The shooting started soon after she said no, he said.

“I heard it when they hit her and she fell on the floor,” Rose said. “She was screaming.”

Cole, 55, died at the hospital the next morning.

Testifying earlier Wednesday, the younger Rose said he was close friends with a man named Wayne, and his mother would have opened the door if it had been his friend.

Prosecutors instead have alleged that it was Finney, 39, and another man, Marlon Jackson, who were involved in the shooting. Jackson, 37, is being tried separately.

Sonja Russell, Cole’s sister, testified Wednesday that she’d gone to Hawkinsville Avenue with Cole on Feb. 4 after hearing that Cole’s son had been involved in a shooting.

When the sisters arrived, they talked with their brother Robert Russell, who also testified Wednesday that he’d witnessed B.J. Rose return fire at Finney in a shooting that day.

Sonja Russell said she dropped off her sister back at her home, on Bradstone Circle off Millerfield Road, about 9 p.m. and returned home.

About 9:50 p.m., she got a call from her sister’s security company saying Cole’s alarm was going off. Russell was listed as her emergency contact.

Russell said she tried to call Cole, but she couldn’t get her on the phone.

“I got an eerie feeling in my stomach,” she said.

She called another of her sisters and asked for her brother-in-law to go check on Cole.

About 15 minutes later, she got a call that Cole had been shot.

“I dropped the phone and started screaming,” Russell said.

Finding a gun

In 2010, Joshua Sanderson was working as a Macon police K9 handler.

Sanderson, who became a Bibb County deputy when police and deputies merged in 2014, said he routinely conducted searches in known drug areas.

On a Sept. 27, 2010, search on Sunnydale Drive, about a mile from Cole’s home, Sanderson’s dog alerted on a fallen tree behind a house. Underneath the tree was a loaded assault rifle inside a plastic bag, he testified.

In her opening statement to jurors Tuesday, prosecutor Sandra Matson said half the shell casings recovered from Cole’s shooting matched that rifle.

A woman who dated Finney in 2007 and 2008 testified Tuesday that she bought the gun after she and Finney were tied up in a home invasion.

Finney’s lawyer, Pamela Bettis, told jurors Tuesday that the gun was linked to a 2010 shooting that happened while Finney was in prison.

Testimony in the case is set to continue Thursday.

Amy Leigh Womack: 478-744-4398, @awomackmacon

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