First suspect in murder of Columbus teen Destiny Nelson waives court appearance

Updated: Jan. 8, 2021 at 6:34 PM EST
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COLUMBUS, Ga. (WTVM) - There has been breakthrough in a Columbus murder case four years after the shooting death of 17-year-old Destiny Nelson.

Columbus police reported this could be the first of many arrests.

19-year-old Keyonna James is facing her second murder charge. Police said this case is a botched gang retaliation. Limited details were shared in open court Friday to keep witnesses safe and the investigation secure.

Nelson’s family sat in court today for the first of many hearings bringing them an inch closer to justice. James is the first person charged in this case. Her attorney pleaded not guilty in her absence.

“But the defendant, she had the audacity to not even come to court, waive her presence, hide behind her little jail cell door, and we’re coming after her,” District Attorney Mark Jones said.

Nelson was shot and killed inside her Bull Creek Apartment home in January 2017. Nelson’s mother, too emotional to speak with News Leader 9 Friday, once told us how she remembers the shooting.

“We get a knock on the door. Destiny was in the hallway. She says who is it? Then, all of the sudden it sounds like firecrackers were going off,” Amber Daniels said.

Nelson, an honors student at Early College Academy, died a few hours later. Police shared from the very beginning of this investigation they believed it was a botched gang retaliation for the shooting death of Dominique Horton 11 days earlier.

Horton is James’ cousin.

“She had absolutely no involvement with what brought this trash to her door,” Capt. Greg Touchberry said.

“Let’s not forget her in this. 17-years-old. Life ended far too young. I’m asking for help. I want to get convictions on the crimes that matter,” Jones said.

Jones said police believe people know who killed Nelson. He said if you’re just afraid to go on the record, he can help.

Police said more arrests are imminent in this case. if you have any information remember there is a reward in place upwards of $25,000. For more information, call the Columbus Police Department’s Homicide Unit.

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