February 15, 2014 9:49:25 PM
The Lowndes County District Attorney's Office will not pursue capital murder charges against a 27-year-old man who has been in custody since 2009.
Cedric Whitley faced the felony in connection with the 2009 shooting death of Lowndes County business owner Clarence Trimble. The incident occurred at Big C's Game Room, which was Trimble's place of business.
Sylvester Johnson, 26, was also charged with capital murder after the shooting. He confessed to shooting Trimble during a robbery, pleaded guilty to murder in 2013 and was sentenced to life in prison. Whitley was with Johnson at the time of the crime, according to law enforcement.
Johnson told investigators that on the night of Trimble's death, he and Whitley walked to the bar inside of Big C's Game Room to get change. When Trimble opened the cash register, Johnson pulled a .22-caliber pistol from his pocket and shot Trimble numerous times, according to Johnson's confession, which was read at a prior court hearing.
Johnson said he bought groceries with $20 that was taken.
The .22-caliber gun was later discovered in a shed behind Johnson's home in Monroe County. A shell casing matching the weapon was recovered at the murder scene, according to law enforcement.
Whitley has repeatedly stated he did not kill Trimble.
On Friday the murder charge against Whitley was "retired to the files," according to an official in the district attorney's office.
Whitley faced the possibility of life behind bars if convicted of murder. Now, he is free.
He pleaded guilty to receiving stolen property, a misdemeanor. Circuit Court Judge Lee Howard fined him $100 and sentenced him to six months in prison. He was released on time served.
Sarah Fowler covers crime, education and community related events for The Dispatch. Follow her on Twitter @FowlerSarah
1. Police: Columbus man pulled knife on woman, rammed car COLUMBUS & LOWNDES COUNTY
2. Columbus man accused of molestation COLUMBUS & LOWNDES COUNTY
3. Federal agents arrest man on assault charges COLUMBUS & LOWNDES COUNTY
5. With city's error, no grant for low income homeowners COLUMBUS & LOWNDES COUNTY