PERRY — A senior airman at Robins Air Force Base accused of killing his fiancee and their unborn child for $1 million in insurance money may face the death penalty.
Charlie Amos Wilson III, 26, also has been linked to another death in an unrelated suspicious fire nearly three years before the slaying.
Wilson appeared before a military officer Tuesday as part of two-day Article 32 hearing held at the Houston County Courthouse.
The hearing is part of the military court process in which a recommendation will be made on whether Wilson will face court-martial, which his attorneys expect, and the specific charges he’s expected to be tried on. The Article 32 investigating officer who presided over the hearing is also expected to make a recommendation on whether the death penalty should be sought.
The body of 30-year-old Tameda Ferguson, who was eight-and-a-half months pregnant, was found in her Dawson home in the early morning hours of Aug. 29, 2013. She had been shot.
Wilson was arrested Aug. 31, 2013, on charges of murder and feticide after an investigation by the GBI and Terrell County Sheriff’s Office.
The case was turned over to the U.S. Air Force at its request.
Pete Donaldson, Wilson’s Albany attorney, said Wilson is expected to plead not guilty. Donaldson said Wilson and Ferguson were “romantically involved,” and the unborn child was his. A base spokesman said Wilson and Ferguson were engaged.
Wilson is facing a multitude of military charges, including premeditated murder, death of an unborn child and obstruction of justice in the death of Ferguson and their unborn child, Robins spokesman David Donato stated in an email.
Wilson also faces charges of felony murder, aggravated arson and burning with intent to defraud in an unrelated suspicious fire, he said.
Authorities suspect Wilson asked Demetrius Hardy to set fire to Wilson’s rental home in October 2011 to collect insurance money, but something went wrong, and Hardy died from injuries sustained in the fire.
Wilson is also facing charges of assault, intentional discharge of a firearm and communicating a threat in an incident involving a female Air Force service member in July 2012, Donato said.
Col. William Muldoon heard testimony, including from GBI special agent Jason Seacrist, about the accusations leveled against Wilson during the hearing, which started Monday and ended Tuesday.
Muldoon is tasked with making a recommendation on whether Wilson should face a court-martial, the charges that he should be tried on at the court-martial and whether the death penalty should be sought. Military defense attorney Maj. Willie Babor alleged Wilson will have “inadequate representation” if the death penalty is sought at court martial. Prosecutors have filed aggravated circumstances calling for the death penalty, including the allegation that Wilson is responsible for three deaths.
Babor said the Air Force does not require the amount of experience that civilian courts require of attorneys representing a defendant in a capital case.
Donaldson was in agreement. He started as Wilson’s attorney when civilian authorities were prosecuting the case. He said he is new to military trials and relies on the military defense attorneys to guide him through the process.
Donato said a new military attorney would be appointed for Wilson if the death penalty is sought, and defense counsel qualifications are often raised in capital cases.
Muldoon’s recommendation is expected to be reviewed by Col. Christopher Hill, the special court-martial convening authority, for review. If evidence warrants, the case will next be reviewed by Lt. Gen. Bruce Litchfield, the general court- martial convening authority for review, Donato stated in the email.
Wilson’s rank is senior airman, or E-4. He is a support team member assigned to the 461st Aircraft Maintenance Squadron. He has served on active duty for eight years.
Wilson was held in pre-trial confinement at the Houston County jail for the hearing. He’s expected to be taken to Charleston Air Force Base to await trial.