Murder suspect surrenders at sheriff's home

After negotiating his possible surrender by telephone all night Monday with Stewart County Sheriff Larry Jones, Columbus murder suspect Albert Darnell Durham, 23, turned himself in at the sheriff's house at 7:20 a.m. Tuesday.

"He wanted to turn himself in but he didn't want to do it with anyone other than me," said Jones. "It was peaceful. He drove in himself. He said he was in north Atlanta last night. He knew he was facing some stiff charges.

"What I was trying to avoid was any more bloodshed."

Durham, of Columbus, is a suspect in the Saturday shooting death of George Angelo McCrary, 31, of Bond Avenue. McCrary's body was discovered about 11:30 a.m. Saturday in an apartment parking lot on Enoch Avenue.

Jones said Durham showed up Tuesday in the 1999 gold four-door Mazda Protege he allegedly took from his cousin Monday after forcing him out of his vehicle along a rural Stewart County road. Durham was on his way to surrender to Jones when he apparently backed out and fled in his cousin's car, the sheriff said. The car was recovered Tuesday.

The sheriff said Durham is being charged in Stewart County with hijacking a motor vehicle and probation violation. He was on probation for an aggravated assault conviction about two years ago in Stewart County.

Jones said he took Durham to the Sumter County Jail Tuesday morning where he will be held until the preliminary hearing in Lumpkin, after which Columbus Police should be able to pick him up.

The sheriff said he hopes to get Durham before a judge so he can be returned to Columbus to face murder and possibly theft charges.

"I'm going to try to get him out of my hair by tomorrow (Wednesday)," the sheriff said. "We must bring him over here for a first-appearance hearing. It will have to be worked out by the two district attorneys, but I'm pretty sure we will waive any trial on our charges pending what Muscogee County will do."

Stewart and Muscogee counties are in two different judicial circuits, which means Durham is likely to be tried in Columbus and Lumpkin on various charges.

The sheriff said Durham told him Monday night by phone that he was in north Atlanta and had gotten lost. "I was telling him how to get out of there without complications," he said.

Durham, who had only recently moved to Columbus from Stewart County, was banished from the Southwestern Judicial Circuit after his aggravated assault conviction, Jones said.

The suspect's latest address is unknown to police, though he had lived on Enoch Drive near the scene of the slaying, Columbus Police Lt. Steve Cox said.

McCrary was shot in the right arm, but the bullet from the 9 mm firearm traveled into his right chest. He was pronounced dead at The Medical Center at 12:21 p.m. Saturday. The body was sent to the GBI crime lab in Atlanta for an autopsy.

Police haven't said why McCrary was at the Enoch Drive location, which isn't near his residence. He was missing a gold chain with a cross and an undetermined amount of money, according to police reports.

McCrary's death was the third homicide in Columbus this year.