Crime

Trial begins for Macon man accused of killing girlfriend

Candace Rice’s dead body, a steak knife in her chest, lay covered by a bedspread while her boyfriend, now accused of killing her, fed her three children their supper.

That night, Bobby Lee Fordham Jr. took the children to a babysitter’s house.

He later recounted to Macon police that he had told the kids their mother was in the bedroom asleep.

The children were accustomed to sleeping at the babysitter’s while Rice, 29, worked the night shift as a youth correctional officer at the Macon YDC.

Fordham later returned to the house on Lafayette Drive, just behind Sam’s Club, where he and Rice had moved a couple months earlier. He gathered some belongings.

It was the Sunday of Memorial Day weekend in 2012.

The next day, he drove Rice’s car toward Alabama after her father became concerned about her whereabouts.

Macon police found Rice dead on May 28, 2012, on her bedroom floor.

Fordham was arrested a few days later in the parking lot of a Birmingham, Alabama, strip club.

When he talked with police, he admitted stabbing Rice during an argument sometime between 5:30 p.m. and 6 p.m. May 27, 2012.

Testimony in Fordham’s trial began Wednesday in Bibb County Superior Court.

In his opening statement to the jury, Fordham’s lawyer, Mark Beberman, said the argument was rooted in Fordham’s unemployment and Rice’s alleged interest in another man.

Beberman contends the knife was already in the bedroom, left there by Fordham who had been repairing one of the children’s toys.

He said Rice is the one who first grabbed the knife and that Fordham stabbed her as the two struggled.

Fordham acted in a “sudden, violent, irresistible passion,” Beberman said.

However, he told jurors that Fordham may have acted in self-defense.

In deciding Fordham’s fate, jurors must decide whether he acted in self-defense and shouldn’t be punished or whether he is guilty of manslaughter or murder.

Prosecutor Jonathan Adams said Fordham and Rice fought after Fordham became upset that the children -- now in the third, fifth and seventh grades -- were playing a game in the living room. Rice wanted them to continue playing.

GBI Medical Examiner Melissa Sims testified that Rice suffered a bruised eye, cut lip and blunt force trauma to other parts of her head.

Adams argued that Fordham left the bedroom during the fight and retrieved a steak knife from the kitchen while his one-time fiancee was on the floor.

Based on a lack of blood spatter, authorities think Rice was stabbed in the chest while she was on the floor, Bibb County sheriff’s Sgt. Bobby Newberry said.

Sims testified the single stab wound to the sternum went through bone and then pierced major veins and arteries, along with her esophagus.

“It would have taken a substantial amount of force,” she said.

A HISTORY OF FIGHTING

Rasheda Jones, one of Rice’s co-workers and friends, testified that she watched as the couple argued the Saturday before she was killed.

Fordham was dropping her off at work.

Jones testified she heard Fordham using profanity.

Fordham’s mother, Barbara Stewart, testified about how her son was arrested in February 2012 for hitting Rice during an argument in Peach County.

Although she didn’t tell law enforcement at the time, Stewart testified that Rice also had been hitting Fordham.

The babysitter, Peggy Oglesby, told of how she was aware the couple had fights about “simple stuff,” but she never saw anything physical.

Oglesby testified that Fordham dropped off the children about 6 p.m. that Sunday.

When she asked where their mother was, he told her she was at home getting ready for work, Oglesby said.

“I didn’t question it,” she said.

Typically, Rice called on her breaks to check on the children. But that night, Oglesby didn’t hear from her.

Rice typically arrived to pick them up about 7 a.m. But at 3 p.m., she still hadn’t heard from Rice.

Oglesby became concerned and called the children’s grandfather.

She said their grandfather checked Rice’s home and nothing seemed awry.

He called the police.

ARREST IN ALABAMA

Jurors watched a video of Fordham’s statement to police in which he described the killing and how he took the children, which aren’t his biological kin, to Oglesby’s house.

He said he later drove by the house he and Rice had shared and saw Rice’s father in the yard. He didn’t stop.

Instead, he drove toward Birmingham and slept in the parking lot of a Wal-Mart just across the state line.

When asked by police why he chose Birmingham, he talked about how he thought the TV crime reality show, “The First 48,” was filmed there.

Initially, he said he didn’t want to get caught. He slept in Rice’s car and avoided using her credit card.

But later, he used her card to buy clothes and food, pay for his tab at a strip club and reserve a motel room. He said a woman and another man also stayed there.

Members of the U.S. Marshals Southeast Regional Fugitive Task Force tracked him to Birmingham and arrested him June 2, 2012.

During his police interview, Fordham said he previously had received help for anger management.

“I’ve got a real bad temper,” he said.

He said he becomes overcome by rage and doesn’t always remember what happens during the episodes.

“I don’t know what the hell got into me that day,” Fordham told the investigators.

Testimony in the case is scheduled to continue Thursday.

Information from Telegraph archives was used in this report. To contact writer Amy Leigh Womack, call 744-4398.

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