Warner Robins man sentenced to life without parole in slaying of Macon legal secretary

Jurors deliberated about three hours before finding a 25-year-old Warner Robins man guilty of murder in the 2012 slaying of a Macon legal secretary that stemmed from a $1.4 million embezzlement scheme.

Keith Anthony Dozier additionally was found guilty of aggravated assault, false imprisonment, burglary and theft.

Bibb County Superior Court Judge Tripp Self sentenced him to life in prison without the chance of parole, plus 20 years.

Self said he had trouble sleeping Wednesday night after being in the room while jurors watched Dozier’s videoed statement to police that described how he stood watch while another man killed 58-year-old Gail Spencer.

“I don’t think I’ve heard anything any more awful,” he said.

Adding up the time Dozier stood watch while 21-year-old Brett Kelly killed Spencer -- about 20 minutes -- Self considered that a person can run two miles in that time.

“That’s a television show without commercials,” he said.

Thinking of how Dozier could stand by for that long, “I don’t know how you did that,” the judge said.

Testimony in Dozier’s case began Wednesday in Bibb County Superior Court.

Dozier testified for about an hour Thursday morning as the sole witness for his defense.

He denied strangling or suffocating Spencer inside her Stinsonville Road house Oct. 5, 2012, but admitted he was in the house while Kelly did the deed.

Kelly pleaded guilty to murder in 2013 and was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole.

Looking toward Spencer’s family in the courtroom Thursday, Dozier apologized for his part in holding Spencer hostage while her co-worker, Tracy Jones, completed unauthorized wire transfers to steal hundreds of thousands of dollars from the Vineville Avenue law firm where Jones and Spencer worked.

Wednesday, jurors watched a portion of Macon police detectives’ interview with Dozier in which he admitted he didn’t intervene when he heard Spencer pleading for her life or when he saw Kelly retrieve a plastic bag to suffocate her.

“On Oct. 5 I was a coward because I didn’t stop Mr. Kelly,” Dozier said Thursday. “Looking back, I would have risked my life trying to stop Mr. Kelly.”

Dozier testified he feared Kelly, who had a gun, would shoot him if he physically tried to stop him from killing Spencer.

He said he’d earlier tried to change Kelly’s mind about the killing.

“I told Mr. Kelly that there’s no sense in killing Ms. Spencer. ... She doesn’t know who we are. She doesn’t know the purpose of us being there,” he testified.

Kelly had already “terrorized her” and threatened her grandchildren. He knew where she lived, Dozier said.

“I told him I didn’t want any blood on my hands,” he said.

Jones, 41, who pleaded guilty to murder in 2013, and was sentenced to life without the possibility of parole, testified Wednesday that Dozier showed up at her apartment asking for his share of the money multiple times in the days after the killing.

He was set to receive $300,000 of the initial $800,000 taken, she said.

The money initially was put in an account in Kelly’s half-sister Courtney Kelly’s name. She skipped town on the day of the killing, and Jones subsequently made other wire transfers Oct. 9, 2012, to take more money, Jones said.

Dozier testified that Brett Kelly was calling him or sending text messages every hour to an hour and a half after Spencer’s death, asking if he’d told anyone what happened or if he planned on telling anyone.

He said he still feared Kelly would harm him or his family.

“If I was with him, I knew he wasn’t near my family,” Dozier said of why he returned daily to be with Kelly and Jones.

Dozier admitted he was convicted of burglary in 2007 in Houston County. Because of that conviction, it was hard for him to find a job.

“I wanted to be a man for my family, provide for my family,” he testified.

In his police statement, he said he planned to use his share of the money to move to the Philippines where he thought money would stretch further. He wanted a fresh start.

He hoped for a chance to be reunited with his son.

Testifying Thursday, Dozier said his son’s mother took him to California six years ago when the boy was 2.

“Before this started, yes, it was about the money,” Dozier said.

That changed after Spencer was killed, he said.

“There’s no amount you can put on somebody’s life,” Dozier said.

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