A man told authorities he was forced to steal a car in July that was later burned with a body inside the trunk, according to testimony Wednesday in Columbus Recorder’s Court.
Fredret Shamar Culliver, 17, pleaded not guilty to armed robbery, hijacking a motor vehicle and possession of a firearm during the commission of a crime. He was ordered held without bond in the Muscogee County Jail.
Judge Julius Hunter bound the case over to Superior Court.
Columbus police were called to the Big Cat Fuels gas station at 2936 North Lumpkin Road on July 9 to investigate a carjacking.
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Sgt. Lance Deaton said Culliver, Darious Jamal Robinson, 18, Marquis Lamar Johnson, 20, hijacked a woman’s 2006 Pontiac G6 outside of the gas station. Johnson allegedly aimed a weapon at her and demanded her property.
Police said they stole her wallet and car keys before leaving in her vehicle.
Robinson allegedly drove the Pontiac to the Circle K at 2102 Wynnton Road. The other two suspects left the vehicle with weapons and robbed the gas station around 10:19 p.m., according to police.
Deaton said Robinson then drove them to a Circle K in Alabama, where police said all three of the men robbed the store.
Deaton said they found the body of 34-year-old Michael Fleming in the trunk of the Pontiac around 5:37 a.m. July 10 at the intersection of Harbison Drive and Head Street. The vehicle was burned and the body was charred beyond recognition with no facial features and no fingers, Muscogee County Coroner Buddy Bryan said.
The body was transported to a Georgia Bureau of Investigation crime lab for an autopsy. It indicated that the man died from a gunshot wound to the head and another to the hip, the coroner stated.
Bryan said Fleming’s parents told officials a week after the incident that the homicide victim may be their son. Officials collected saliva from both parents that matched Fleming’s DNA, the coroner said.
Johnson, 20, was arrested on July 12 after he allegedly robbed the Village Pawn Shop on Fort Benning Road with 23-year-old Jamal Head and 21-year-old Quantavius Pigler.
Robinson was taken into custody the next day at the the Big Cat Fuels, where he allegedly threatened a married couple with a gun. On July 26, he pleaded not guilty in Recorder’s Court to armed robbery, hijacking a motor vehicle and possession of a firearm during the commission of a crime.
Culliver was arrested at a Six Flags theme park on unrelated charges and placed in the Cobb County Jail. On Monday, he was transferred to the Muscogee County Jail to face charges related to the hijacking and armed robberies in Columbus.
Deaton said Culliver admitted to being at all three crime scenes on July 9. He said at least one of the co-defendants threatened to harm him if he didn’t help commit the crimes.
“He does say he was threatened by the other two or one of the two other individuals,” Deaton testified.
No murder warrants have been issued in connection with Fleming’s death, but officials have arrested the man accused of cleaning up the blood and evidence at the scene of the shooting.
Alexander Jackson, 56, pleaded not guilty to tampering with evidence Tuesday morning in Columbus Recorder’s Court.
“It’s our understanding from witness testimony that he was instructed to get rid of the blood and the biological evidence that was left at the scene,” Deaton testified Tuesday. “He poured accelerant on it, put it in the fire and stood over it for quite some time, constantly feeding the fire to make sure that the blood and the biological evidence was disposed of.”
No additional details about the homicide have been released.