Crime

Columbus woman’s ex-boyfriend put gun to her head days before she went missing, police say

The estranged boyfriend of a young Columbus mother of three missing for more than a year is going to represent himself as he’s tried this month on charges of assaulting and stalking her.

But the victim, Ebony Giddens, who was 27 when she disappeared March 12, 2018, won’t be available to testify in Malcolm Jamaine Jackson’s trial, because authorities still don’t know what became of her. A $10,000 reward for tips in her disappearance has yet to yield results.

Jackson, 30, is charged with aggravated assault, aggravated stalking and using a gun to commit a crime, in connection with an incident reported March 9, 2018, three days before Giddens vanished.

Authorities allege he put a gun to her head that day, leading to his arrest on a misdemeanor charge of simple assault related to family violence. He was ordered to have no contact with Giddens when he got out of jail, but began texting her when he was released the next day, investigators said.

He was arrested on a Friday, and released on Saturday. The following Sunday, Giddens spoke with a cousin on the telephone about 11 p.m., and that is the last her family heard from her.

At 7:30 the next morning, the father of Giddens’ youngest sons, Roderick Daniel, came to her Montclair Drive home to pick up his children. Finding the doors locked and the kids alone inside, he called Giddens’ brother, who came to help find a way into the house, authorities said. The children were too small to work the door’s deadbolt lock.

Ebony Giddens
Ebony Giddens has been missing since March 12, police said. Special to the Ledger-Enquirer

Giddens’ cell phone and purse were still in the residence. Relatives said she would never have left her kids alone. Police have been searching for her since.

Learning Jackson repeatedly had been texting Giddens in violation of his court order, officers arrested him March 13, 2018, for aggravated stalking.

Because he was convicted of burglaries dating back to 2007, his probation was revoked, and he was returned to prison while awaiting trial on the assault and stalking charges.

Though attorney Jose Guzman was assigned to be Jackson’s public defender on March 29, 2018, the suspect repeatedly sought to represent himself, filing handwritten motions that Judge Arthur Smith III dismissed because Jackson still had a lawyer.

Jackson still sought to represent himself after another attorney, Angela Dillon, entered the case this past Aug. 1.

In court Tuesday morning, Jackson again insisted on representing himself, though Smith repeatedly warned him about the risks. Jackson said he wanted to go to trial this week, but Smith granted the prosecution a postponement until Oct. 28. Jackson then will have a “standby” lawyer available to answer any questions he has, during the trial, but the lawyer otherwise will not advocate for him, questioning no witnesses, making no motions and raising no objections.

Should Jackson decide to testify, Smith said he may do so in a narrative form — telling his side of the story instead of asking himself questions he answers.

Because Giddens is not available to testify, Assistant District Attorney Wesley Lambertus will employ what’s called a “residual exception” to the rule against hearsay evidence, which is a witness’ testifying to what someone else said.

Smith will have to rule that Giddens cannot be found, so others may be permitted to testify to what she told them.

According to court filings, Roderick Daniel will testify that Giddens told him on March 10, 2018, that Jackson had been texting her in a “harassing and intimidating manner,” and that Jackson had put a gun to her head the day before.

Giddens’ brother, Alvin Brooks, is expected to testify that Giddens told him that, too, on the same day.

Because of Jackson’s prior convictions, Lambertus has filed notice that Jackson is a recidivist, under Georgia law, and must be given the maximum sentence, if convicted, though part of the sentence still may be served on probation.

That means Jackson could serve up to 35 years, 20 for aggravated assault, 10 for aggravated stalking, and five for using a gun to commit a felony.

Court records show Jackson in 2007 was accused of twice breaking into Columbus’ Key Elementary School, 2520 Broadmore Drive, on Oct. 30 and Nov. 2; of burglarizing Rising Star Lodge No. 5, 3528 Levy Road, on Nov. 13; and of breaking into an apartment at 3551 Victory Drive on Dec. 4.

He pleaded guilty to three of those offenses on Aug. 6, 2009, and was sentenced to 10 years in prison with three to serve and the rest on probation. He was paroled Feb. 9, 2010.

On Nov. 12, 2012, he was accused of first-degree burglary in Chattahoochee County, and his probation was revoked. Because of that revocation, he was resentenced in Muscogee County on March 16, 2015, to serve two years and 10 on probation. Because of the time he’d already spent in jail, he was eligible for release June 15, 2015.

After his 2018 arrest involving Giddens, his probation was revoked again, and he was ordered to serve four years and eight months, according to court records.

Jackson is expected back in court Wednesday for a hearing on pretrial motions.

Meanwhile Columbus police still are asking the public for any information on Giddens’ whereabouts. Anyone who can help may call detectives at 706-653-3400. She is 4 feet, 9 inches tall and weighs 110 pounds. She has brown eyes and black hair.

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Tim Chitwood is from Seale, Ala., and started as a police beat reporter with the Ledger-Enquirer in 1982. He since has covered Columbus’ serial killings and other homicides, following some from the scene of the crime to trial verdicts and ensuing appeals. He also has been a Ledger-Enquirer humor columnist since 1987. He’s a graduate of Auburn University, and started out working for the weekly Phenix Citizen in Phenix City, Ala.
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