Crime

Lawyer: Accused ‘lookout’ in Macon legal secretary’s killing was coerced

Macon legal secretary Gail Spencer answered the door at her house Oct. 5, 2012, before she had gotten ready to go to work.

Outside stood her co-worker, Tracy Michele Jones. She asked to use Spencer’s bathroom, for something to drink and to use her phone.

Spencer, a 58-year-old grandmother, let her in.

While in the bathroom of Spencer’s Stinsonville Road house, Jones sent a text message to her then boyfriend Michael Brett Kelly and Keith Anthony Dozier saying she’d made it inside, Jones testified Wednesday in Bibb County Superior Court.

Then, after Spencer had gone to her bedroom to get dressed, leaving Jones in her kitchen sipping a drink with her cellphone, two masked men -- Dozier and Kelly -- came in, Jones testified.

Jurors are set to decide this week whether Dozier, 25, of Warner Robins, is guilty of Spencer’s killing and participating in an associated $1.4 million embezzlement scheme. The trial of Dozier, who is charged with murder, aggravated assault, false imprisonment and theft, began Wednesday.

Jones, 41, and Kelly, 21, pleaded guilty to murder in 2013 and were sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole. Courtney Kelly, 25, another co-conspirator, also accepted a plea bargain and was sentenced to life.

Larry Fouche, Dozier’s lawyer, told jurors in his opening statement that his client was coerced into his part in the crime. He said Brett Kelly had a gun inside Spencer’s house and that he feared for his life and for his family’s safety if he didn’t comply.

Jones, who worked with Spencer at Calder Pinkston’s law firm on Vineville Avenue, testified Wednesday that Dozier was set to receive $300,000 of the $800,000 she stole in unauthorized wire transfers while Dozier and Brett Kelly kept Spencer, the firm’s office manager, at her house.

The remaining $500,000 was to be split among Jones, Kelly and Courtney Kelly, Brett Kelly’s half sister, she said.

The money initially was transferred into Courtney Kelly’s account and was to later be split. She left town before the money could be divided, Jones testified.

In response, Jones made another series of unauthorized wire transfers Oct. 9, 2012, the Monday following Spencer’s Friday killing. The theft totalled $1.4 million, she said.

In the days following Spencer’s death, Dozier went to Jones’ house multiple times asking for his cut of the money, Jones said.

At some point, Brett Kelly took Dozier to an ATM to show him the money wasn’t yet available, she said.

Dozier is set to testify Thursday when the trial resumes.

‘I HAVE TO TELL THEM THE TRUTH’

Jurors sat for more than an hour Wednesday watching a video excerpt of Dozier being interviewed by Macon police detectives.

The footage began with Dozier on the phone in an interview room talking with his wife, professing his innocence.

“I don’t have anything to do with this,” he spoke into the phone. “We just got to stick to the truth.”

Detectives walked in and interrupted the call, telling Dozier’s wife someone would pick her up in a few minutes. Dozier had told them she could offer him an alibi for the time when Spencer was killed.

Investigator Scott Chapman told Dozier that police had video of him riding into Jones’ apartment complex on a motorcycle and leaving in a car with Jones during the time when he supposedly was with his wife.

Dozier asked for a cigarette and 10 minutes to call his wife.

He told her, “Baby don’t worry about it. ... I have to be a man and stand up for what I did. ... I have to tell them the truth.”

When detectives returned, Dozier recounted how Brett Kelly recruited him to help hold Spencer hostage and Spencer’s last hours:

After going into Spencer’s house early Oct. 5, 2012, Dozier checked to be sure no one was there except Spencer and Jones. Brett Kelly grabbed Spencer in her bedroom and put a gun to her face, warning her not to talk or scream.

Jones left to go to work and transfer the money.

Kelly used duct tape to bind Spencer.

“She was so scared,” Dozier told the detectives. “She was shaking so bad I thought she was going to die of a heart attack or stroke or something.”

Dozier said he rubbed Spencer’s shoulders, apologizing for what was happening.

She pleaded for her life.

“Nobody said anything about killing anybody,” Dozier told the detectives.

At some point, he untied her and assured Kelly that she wouldn’t go anywhere as long as Kelly had the gun.

Then, Kelly told Dozier to stay out of the bedroom for about five minutes.

After some time had passed, Dozier saw Spencer emerge from the bathroom. She was shaking even more.

Soon, Kelly received a phone call. Dozier overheard him say, “I might have to kill her.”

Kelly told Dozier he’d forced the woman to perform a sex act on him.

Kelly asked Spencer if she’d stay quiet after they left and not tell anyone what had happened.

“He threatened to kill her grandchildren,” Dozier told the detectives.

Dozier said he couldn’t have anyone’s blood on his hands. Kelly told him to “just stand watch.”

Standing in another room of the house, Dozier heard “a bunch of wrestling around.”

“I heard her screaming,” he told the detectives, covering his face with his hands. She was saying, “you promised, you promised, you promised.”

Kelly ran into the kitchen and returned with a black plastic bag -- much like one used at area convenience stores.

When he re-emerged from the bedroom, Spencer was dead.

GBI Medical Examiner Melissa Sims-Stanley testified Wednesday that Spencer died of asphyxia by strangling and smothering. Despite the bag found over her head, there were signs that pressure had been applied to her face.

Sims-Stanley said it generally takes a person two or three minutes to lose consciousness in a death like Spencer’s. Death comes some time later as the body is deprived of oxygen.

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

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