AP NEWS

Colquitt County mass murder suspect has first court appearance

May 21, 2017

MOULTRIE (TNS) — A Colquitt County man who faces the death penalty if convicted of fatally shooting five acquaintances and setting their house on fire in May 2016 made his first court appearance on Friday.

No formal charges were presented against Jeffrey Alan Peacock during the brief session in the courthouse courtroom, and Peacock, whose appearance was a contrast from his jail booking photo, did not have to enter a plea.

In the mug shot from Colquitt County Jail, taken after he was arrested on murder and other charges, Peacock has disheveled hair and a beard and mustache covering much of his face. In court, his hair was short, his face was shaved and he was wearing a blue jacket.

He spoke only a handful of times answering questions from Superior Court Judge James E. Hardy with a quiet, “Yes sir,” or “No, sir.”

Formal charges will be presented at an arraignment hearing that could be held in late May or late June.

Prosecutors have accused Peacock of shooting Jonathan Garrett Edwards, Ramsey Jones Pidcock and Aaron Reid Williams, all 21; 20-year-old Alicia Brooke Norman; and Jordan Shane Croft, 22.

Peacock reportedly was one of three callers who notified Colquitt County E-911 on the morning of May 15, 2016, of the fire at the 505 Rossman Dairy where the five lived, according to E-911 call logs.

Initial sheriff’s reports said that when a deputy arrived at the burning wood-frame house, located about five miles northeast of Moultrie, Peacock was at the scene. He told officers at that time that he had gone to get breakfast for his five friends living at the house and saw the smoke as he was returning.

Investigators immediately were suspicious that five healthy young adults would succumb to fire, and have said that an autopsy showed no smoke in their lungs — meaning they were dead before the fire started.

According to indictments in the case, all five were shot in the head before the house was set on fire.

Two dogs also died inside the residence of burns and smoke inhalation, according to police, and the body of a third dog with a fractured head was found outside the house.

A Colquitt County Grand Jury indicted Peacock in March on five counts of malice murder and of possession of a firearm during the commission of a felony. Peacock also was indicted on three counts of aggravated cruelty to dogs and arson.

Superior Court Judge James G. Tunison Jr. set a bond of $1 million for Peacock in October, but he has remained in jail since his arrest. Georgia law requires that judges set a “reasonable” bond if 90 days pass without prosecutors indicting a defendant. In this context, reasonable does not necessarily mean a bond that the accused can afford, but reasonable based on the details of the crime, prior criminal history, the likelihood the defendant could flee to avoid trial and other considerations.