Ford de­nied ap­peal

Lo­cal con­victed of 1986 dou­ble mur­der

The Covington News - - Front Page - By Am­ber Pittman

Mel­bert Ray Ford Jr., a death row­in­mate con­victed of killing his for­mer girl­friend and a young girl in 1986, was de­nied his ap­peal by the U.S. Cir­cuit Court of Ap­peals Mon­day.

Ford filed a habeas cor­pus pe­ti­tion with

the three judge panel claim­ing his con­sti­tu­tional rights were vi­o­lated and that he did not have ef­fec­tive coun­sel at his sen­tenc­ing in the deaths of Martha Chap­man Matich, 31, and her 11-year-old niece Lisa Re­nee Chap­man.

Ac­cord­ing to records from the court, Ford and Matich had a ro­man­tic re­la­tion­ship, and when it broke, up he al­legedly be­gan ha­rass­ing her by phone. Ford spoke to sev­eral peo­ple about rob­bing the store she worked at and told at least one per­son that he in­tended to kill Matich, ac­cord­ing to records.

“Fi­nally, Ford met 19-year-old Roger Turner, who was out of a job and nearly out of money,” reads the tran­script. “By ply­ing him with al­co­hol, and promis­ing him that they could eas­ily ac­quire $8,000, Ford per­suaded Turner to help him. They drove in Turner’s car to Chap­man’s Gro­cery, arriving just af­ter clos­ing time. Ford shot away the lower half of the locked and barred glass door and en­tered the store. Turner, wait­ing in the car, heard screams and gun- shots. Then Ford ran from the store to the car, car­ry­ing a bag of money.”

The store’s bur­glar alarm sounded at 10:20 p.m., ac­cord­ing to the tran­scripts, and when the New­ton County Sher­iff’s deputy ar­rived at 10:27 p.m., he re­port­edly found Matich ly­ing dead be­hind the counter shot three times. Chap­man was found in the bath­room. She had been shot in the head but was still alive, sit­ting on a bucket, bleed­ing from the head and hav­ing con­vul­sions. She died later — never able to an­swer ques­tions about the in­ci­dent.

Both Ford and Turner were ar­rested the next day, and Turner con­fessed first. Ford al­legedly told in­ves­ti­ga­tors the shoot­ing be­gan af­ter Matich pushed the alarm but­ton. He also said at trial that he was “too drunk to know what was hap­pen­ing and that it was Turner who en­tered the store and killed the vic­tims.”

Athis trial Ford­was con­victed of bur­glary, pos­ses­sion of a firearm dur­ing a crime, armed rob­bery and mur­der — for which he was sen­tenced to death.

He had been pre­vi­ously con­victed in 1978 of ter­ror­is­tic threats and ac­tions and crim­i­nal tres­pass­ing out of Cobb County.


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