January 2, 2007
There is a new development in the case of a former private school student who was murdered in a Charlottesville trailer park more than two years ago.
Police say it’s clear to them that one of two men strangled Azlee Hickman in a trailer in 2004. One of those men was charged and his trial ended in a mistrial. The other was arrested Tuesday, but not on murder charges.
Ronnie Powell, the father of Hickman’s baby, was arrested on perjury charges.
Both Powell and Billy Marshall Jr. admit they were in the trailer the night the 18-year-old mother was strangled to death. Marshall was tried for her murder, but the jury could not reach a verdict. Powell's testimony was critical. He said he saw Marshall strangle Hickman, but now, police say he was lying.
“The specifics of it are he testified differently at the preliminary hearing than what he spoke of at the circuit court trial,” said Charlottesville Police Detective James Mooney.
Defense Attorney Charles Weber cross examined Powell on the stand. Weber said,” There was a host of inconsistencies.”
The bombshell: Powell testified Marshall threatened him with a knife. He said, “That fact had never come out.”
Weber said Powell had his own reasons for wanting Hickman dead, allegedly to stop her from reporting she was a minor when she became pregnant with his child.
“There are two people in the whole world who know who did it and that would be Billy [Marshall] and Ronnie Powell and they have both given inconsistent statements, they both pointed the finger at each other,” said Weber.
Police say they still hope to solve this murder and believe they are one step closer.
“Murder is a crime that can be prosecuted 50 years down the road so this case remains open until someone answers for that crime,” said Mooney.
Powell is being held without bond at the Regional Jail. If convicted of perjury he could face up to 10 years in prison.
After the mistrial, Marshall pleaded guilty to being an accessory and was sentenced to one year in jail. As part of his plea agreement with prosecutors Marshall can not be tried again for Hickman’s murder.