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Solicitor: Suspect Should Have Been Arrested Before Murder | News

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Solicitor: Suspect Should Have Been Arrested Before Murder
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DOUGLASVILLE, GA -- Douglas County's Solicitor-General isn't happy with the way a private probation company handled the case of Horace Coleman, one of four suspects in the beating death of 18-year-old Bobby Tillman.

"They failed the county in regard to this case," said Solicitor-General Brian Fortner.

Nineteen-year-old Horace Coleman was arrested and charged with murder just hours after Bobby Tillman was beaten to death during a house party in Douglasville.

At the time of his arrest, Coleman was serving double probation. In June, the teenager pleaded guilty to a felony drug charge and received 5 years probation. A month earlier, he pleaded guilty to misdemeanor charges of obstruction and giving police a false name, and received 2 years probation.

A private company, Sentinel Offender Services, was charged with supervising Horace Colman's probation on the misdemeanor charges.

Douglas County authorities say Sentinel has admitted that on October 13, Coleman failed a drug screening, testing positive for marijuana use.

Fortner says Coleman should have immediately been arrested and taken before a judge to determine if his probation should be revoked. But the Solicitor-General says Sentinel didn't notify his office of Coleman's failed drug test, and didn't file a petition for probation revocation until November 15, after the beating death of Bobby Tillman.

"They did not do their part," said Fortner. "Am I saying this resulted in the death of Bobby Tillman? I'm not saying that. I'm saying if there's even the slightest chance we could have intervened, that should have happened."

Coleman has denied any involvement in the murder.

After numerous e-mails and phone calls to representatives with Sentinel, the company responded with a written response late Tuesday evening.

"The drafting of a proposed violation due to the drug screen was composed in the latter part of October by our Probation Officer for review by the local office Manager," writes Sentinel Vice President of Georgia Operations Tim Lewis. 

Lewis writes that the process would have gone beyond the November 7 murder of Bobby Tillman.

"The timeline necessary for law enforcement prioritization and assignment of this misdemeanor warrant, and the time to locate the offender and arrest the offender would not have impacted the present circumstances as they transpired," writes Lewis. "There is no reasonable assumption that this process would not have taken beyond the Nov. 7 offense date for which the subject crime alleged to have occurred."

To read Sentinel's response in its entirety, click here.

Solicitor-General Brian Fortner points out that in Sentinel's petition for revocation, Coleman's probation officer cites the murder of Bobby Tillman and the fact that Coleman was $1,700 in arrears on his probation fees. There is no mention of the failed drug screening.

Fortner says he has no way of knowing what would have happened to Coleman had the petition been filed before Bobby Tillman's murder.

"If there's even the slightest chance this would have made a difference in what happened on November 7th, we owe it to Bobby Tillman and his family to find that out and make sure it doesn't happen again," said Fortner.

According to court documents, Horace Coleman shouldn't have been in Douglas County at all at the time of Bobby Tillman's murder. His felony probation included a court order that banished Coleman from Douglas County during the time of his probation, except for court appearances.

Coleman's probation revocation hearing has been scheduled for December 15.

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