By Joe Johnson
A Madison County man this week was indicted in connection with the fatal shooting of an Athens man last year at a local gas station.
A grand jury charged 46-year-old Reginald Lang Kelley of Colbert with malice and felony murder, aggravated assault and possession of a firearm during the commission of a felony for the death of 52-year-old Berry Drive resident Mark Alden Howard, according to the indictment filed Tuesday in Clarke County Superior Court.
The fatal shooting occurred Aug. 25, 2020 in broad daylight and with several witnesses present at the Apex Chevron gas station and convenience store on North Avenue, where Athens-Clarke County police said Kelley fatally shot Howard.
Kelley, who police said had a longstanding beef with Howard reportedly placed his gun down and remained at the scene to be arrested.
According to Athens attorney Brian Patterson, who at the time of Kelley’s bond hearing in September was acting district attorney, Kelley claimed to have shot Howard in self-defense.
During the bond hearing, Western Judicial Circuit Chief Judge Eric Norris heard testimony from just one witness, police Det. Sean McCauley, lead investigator in the case.
Summarizing the detective’s testimony, Patterson said that on the day of the shooting Kelley and Howard had a chance encounter at the North Avenue business, where Howard’s vehicle was backed up to the convenience store and Kelley’s vehicle was at a nearby gas pump.
“Both men were there for several minutes where they interacted with various individuals,” Patterson said. “Mr. Howard then moved his vehicle forward next to Mr. Kelley’s vehicle on the other side of the gas pump. Mr. Howard then got out of his car and went to Mr. Kelley’s car where the men exchanged words. Mr. Howard then pulled on the car door, and as it opened, Mr. Kelley shot Mr. Howard two times at close range with a handgun,” killing the other man.
Further investigation determined that “Mr. Kelley and Mr. Howard have been engaged in an ongoing dispute along with other family members, which included Mr. Kelley’s brother,” Patterson said.
Patterson noted that Kelley had no prior felony criminal history and had family ties on the community.
After hearing all testimony, the judge granted Kelley a $50,000 good security bond, with the conditions he wear an ankle monitor and remain under house arrest while awaiting trial.
Kelley is scheduled to be arraigned on the indictment on July 12.