By Joe Johnson
A Superior Court Judge on Wednesday granted bond to a Madison County man who last month shot and killed an Athens resident during a confrontation at a North Avenue convenience store and gas station.
The fatal shooting occurred the afternoon of Aug. 25, in broad daylight with plenty of witnesses at the Apex Chevron gas station, where Athens-Clarke County police said Reginald Lang Kelley, 40, of Colbert fatally shot 52-year-old Mark Alden Howard of Berry Drive.
Kelley, who police said had a longstanding beef with Howard remained at the scene to be arrested. He was taken into custody for questioning and subsequently booked into the county jail on charges of malice murder, felony murder and second-degree murder.
Acting Western Judicial Circuit District Attorney Brian Patterson said that after hearing evidence that Kelley claimed to have shot Howard in self-defense, Chief Judge Eric Norris granted Kelley a $50,000 good security bond, with the conditions he wear an ankle monitor and remain under house arrest while awaiting trial.
Patterson noted that Kelley had no prior felony criminal history and has family ties to the community.
During the bond hearing, Norris heard testimony from just one witness, Athens-Clarke County police Det. Sean McCauley, who is lead investigator in the homicide 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 while seated in the driver’s seat,” killing the other man.
According to Patterson’s summarization of the detective’s testimony, “Mr. Kelley then exited his vehicle and walked toward the convenience store. A clerk called 911, and uniform patrol officers responded to the scene. Mr. Kelley was taken into custody at the scene without incident, and the pistol and shell casings were collected as evidence.”
Kelley was then transported to the police department where, in an interview, he claimed that he acted in self-defense,” the prosecutor said.
“Further investigation has revealed that Mr. Kelley and Mr. Howard have been engaged in an ongoing dispute along with other family members, which included Mr. Kelley’s brother. The events at the Apex gas station were recorded on surveillance video,” Patterson said.