Rickey Powell sentenced to life for killing landlord

Rickey Powell in court Monday
Rickey Powell in court Monday

By Lindsey Connell - bio | email | Twitter

Updated By Taylor Barnhill  - bio | email | Twitter

COLUMBUS, GA (WTVM) -  Wednesday, a jury found Rickey Powell guilty on all 11 counts, among those charges was malice murder.  Powell was on trial for the murder of his landlord, a successful realtor and mother of three.

A judge sentenced him to serve life in prison for malice murder.  In addition, he will serve consecutive terms for robbery, theft, battery, concealing a body and fraud.

Prosecutors say all roads led to Powell for the 2008 murder of Herta Bailey who was found brutally strangled in the trunk of her car -- her body scorched with acid.

But Powell's attorneys say there's no physical evidence linking him to the crime.

In his opening statement Monday, Assistant District Attorney Crawford Seals called Powell, 42, a dead beat who couldn't pay his bills and was in over his head, renting a house in Columbus with a rent of $1100 a month.

When his landlord, 70-year-old Herta Bailey would not cut him anymore slack, Seals says he strangled her, put her in the truck of her convertible and doused her body with acid. Seals says Bailey's skin was melted off.

The state claims after Powell killed Bailey, he used her credit card to pay his hefty past due balances at Georgia Power, Knology, Columbus Water Works and Atmos Energy.

When he was arrested, Bailey's body still had not been found and prosecutors say Powell overheard detectives say they were going to upgrade the case from a missing person case to a kidnapping.

It was then they say Powell uttered "That won't be necessary," and directed investigators to Bailey's car with her body in the trunk, afterwards blaming the crime on old prison buddies.

Powell's attorney, Robert Watkins Jr., says the state's story is just that- a story and there are no fingerprints, blood or DNA samples linking him to the killing.

A fingerprint on the door of Bailey's office is not a match to Powell and blood and DNA found at the scene was not from a man.

Prosecutors tell WTVM Powell has four prior felony convictions in the state of Georgia.

On day two of the trial, the jury heard from four witnesses including two detectives with the Columbus Police Department, a close friend of Herta Bailey's who was the last person to speak to her on the phone before she died and a neighbor of Rickey Powell's who saw him driving the victim's car the night of her murder.

The jury deliberated for three hours.

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