A man that was once facing the possibility of the death penalty is now back at home with his family.
Charlton Aaron Colom, 34, of Columbus, was released from the Lowndes County Adult Detention Center on Tuesday afternoon after the capital murder charge against him was declared noelle prosse, meaning the district attorney will not prosecute the case.
Colom was arrested and charged with capital murder in Dec. 2008 for his alleged role in the Dec. 9, 2008, murder of Michael Gordon.
Gordon, 25, was inside his residence at 111 Bill Walker Road when witnesses claimed Colom first knocked, then entered the mobile home and shot Gordon once in the neck at point blank range.
According to Packet #805, Gordon’s fiancée Shannon Lee told investigators with the Sheriff’s Department that Gordon left the home around midnight and returned just after 1 a.m. She said the two were getting ready for bed around 2:30 a.m. when there was a knock at the door. Lee said she was back in the bathroom and heard Gordon ask “who was there.”
Lee said she did not hear the person’s reply but assumed that Gordon must have known the person. According to Lee, if Gordon did not recognize the voice on the other side of the door he would ask the person “who is it?” twice. Lee said Gordon only asked the person “Who’s there?” once, which she took to mean that Gordon knew the person.
Once the door was opened Lee told investigators she heard a noise “like a firecracker.” She stated that she then ran into the living room and saw Gordon on the floor with the shooter searching his pockets.
Lee stated, “He saw me walk up from the back and asked me where the money was.” She told him there wasn’t any money and pleaded with him, saying, “Please, my baby is in the house,” referring to her and Gordon’s infant child.
Lee’s mother, Rosemary Lee, was in the home as well as her cousin, who was on the couch in the living room. Shannon Lee stated that the shooter then turned to the cousin and asked her where the money was.
Lee said the gunman then ran from the house and jumped into a car that appeared to be a dark-colored Oldsmobile Cutlass. She described the shooter as “tall” with “broad shoulders.” Lee stated that while the shooter looked for money, he left empty-handed even though there was one thousand dollars in cash in Gordon’s shoe. Shannon Lee said, “He left without getting the money. He had to be shaken.”
EMTs responded to the scene and treated Gordon in the ambulance until just after 3 a.m. He died en route to the hospital.
Shannon Lee and Rosemary Lee, as well as the unidentified cousin, later fingered Colom as the shooter. He was arrested six days after the murder.
During his Dec. 15 arrest, investigators discovered a firearm on Colom and, because of his prior conviction for the sale of cocaine, he was charged with possession of a weapon by a convicted felon in addition to the murder charge.
Since the murder took place during a burglary, Colom was charged with capital murder. If convicted, he could have faced the death penalty.
Colom is the nephew of local attorney Wilbur Colom, but he was not represented by his uncle. Instead, attorney Ronald Michael of Booneville, Miss. handled the case.
According to Michael, “there was no evidence whatsoever that connected Aaron” to Gordon’s murder.
Michael stated that several witnesses put Colom in Ripley, Miss., at the time of the shooting, first at his mother’s house and then at his girlfriend’s. Michael also had little faith in the witnesses’ identification of Colom and held a suppression hearing last month to prevent one of the identifications from making it into court. According to Michael, the witness claims she only saw “a quarter” of the shooter’s face, “from the bottom of his nose over.”
Michael also stated that all three women put the shooter in different clothing, with one witness claiming he was wearing a “blue of black pullover with red lining”, while another stated the pullover was gray and another claimed it was white.
Michael also said that one of the witnesses recanted her claim that Colom was the shooter and gave investigators a different name.
Assistant District Attorney Mark Jackson, who is handling the case, was not available for comment, but Michael stated that he had talked to Jackson and “respected” both he and District Attorney Forrest Allgood for making the decision not to prosecute the case.
Michael stated, “When I talked to Mark Jackson he said that he had spoken to the victim’s family and he and Forrest and made the decision to nolle prosse the case because he didn’t feel like he had sufficient enough evidence to move forward.”
Of the decision, Michael again stated his respect for both Jackson and Allgood, saying, “I admire Mark for making that decision and for Forrest approving. A lot of prosecutors wouldn’t do that. I admire him for stepping up and saying ‘I cant get there.’ ”
Michael said he is “delighted the case turned out this way” and states that he knew “from the beginning” that Colom can “put this behind him and move forward with his life.”
Since the case was deemed nolle prosse without prejudice, the state can make the decision to try Colom on the charge. For now, however, he is free. On the potential of the case one day going to trial, Michael said, “There was no forensic or physical evidence, no traces of anything. They’ve had four years to get more evidence. Nothing has changed in that four years. I can’t speak for them [Jackson and Allgood] but I suspect they would be looking in another direction.”
Colom’s sister Nia Colom spoke on her family’s behalf about their joy at her brother being set free. She stated, “We’re glad to have him home. We’ve been praying, and finally God has answered our prayers. We’re happy that justice has been served, and even though it’s long overdue, we’re happy that justice has been served.”