Crime

Plea offers extended to men charged in 2008 Macon murder case

Macon woman gunned down at home

A neighbor describes what he saw after 55-year-old Gwendolyn Cole was gunned down on Feb. 4, 2008. Dozens of bullets sprayed the house on Bradstone Circle off Millerfield Road in east Macon. Video by Liz Fabian.
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A neighbor describes what he saw after 55-year-old Gwendolyn Cole was gunned down on Feb. 4, 2008. Dozens of bullets sprayed the house on Bradstone Circle off Millerfield Road in east Macon. Video by Liz Fabian.

Prosecutors have extended plea offers to two men charged in the 2008 slaying of Gwendolyn Cole, about five weeks after the Georgia Supreme Court ruled that wiretap evidence in the case won't be admissible if the case goes to trial.

Cole, 55, was shot to death Feb. 4, 2008, when her home on east Macon's Bradstone Circle was sprayed with bullets from an assault rifle.

Marlon Jackson, 36, and Benjamin Finney, 38, were charged with murder in 2012.

Jackson has been held at the county jail awaiting trial since Halloween 2012. Just before that, he'd served two years in federal prison.

Last month, Jackson's attorney argued for a bond to be set for his client. The judge postponed the hearing until Monday, when prosecutor Sandra Matson said she'd report back to the court after reviewing the case "with a fresh set of eyes" after the Supreme Court ruling.

A neighbor describes what he saw after 55-year-old Gwendolyn Cole was gunned down on Feb. 4, 2008. Dozens of bullets sprayed the house on Bradstone Circle off Millerfield Road in east Macon. Video by Liz Fabian.

During Monday's hearing, Matson said plea offers have been extended to Jackson and Finney. Details of the plea bargains were not disclosed publicly.

Both men have until May 9 to decide whether to take the offer or continue toward trial. If the men reject the plea bargains, consent bonds -- sums agreed upon by the prosecution and the defense -- will be offered, Matson said.

After Cole's death, prosecutors conducted a wiretap on Finney's cell phone. They'd secured a warrant on suspicion that he was a drug dealer in Jones County.

Instead of sealing the results of the electronic surveillance immediately upon the warrant's expiration, as required, it took 16 days for the evidence to be sealed.

Finney's lawyer later filed a motion to suppress evidence obtained through the wiretap.

To contact writer Amy Leigh Womack, call 744-4398 or find her on Twitter@awomackmacon.

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