Suspected DeKalb serial killer has death penalty hearing today

Alleged serial killer Aeman Presley leaves DeKalb court after pleading not guilty Wednesday afternoon May 27, 2015 to charges stemming from the shooting death of a hairdresser on the downtown Decatur square. Ben Gray / bgray@ajc.com
Alleged serial killer Aeman Presley leaves DeKalb court after pleading not guilty Wednesday afternoon May 27, 2015 to charges stemming from the shooting death of a hairdresser on the downtown Decatur square. Ben Gray / bgray@ajc.com

DeKalb prosecutors hope a conviction in the murder of a homeless man will help secure the death penalty for a suspected serial killer in other cases.

Aeman Presley appeared in DeKalb Superior Court on Tuesday, accused of killing Calvin Gholston, a homeless man who was shot last September, and hair dresser Karen Pearce, who was killed in December in Smyrna. Presley is also accused of killing two other homeless men.

Chief Deputy District Attorney Anna G. Cross said a murder conviction in the Gholston case would only lead to a maximum sentence of life in prison because there were no additional aggravating circumstances, such as robbery.

There was a robbery, however, in the case of Pearce’s murder, and that aggravating circumstance, along with a prior murder conviction in the Gholston case, would strengthen a death penalty case in Presley’s second trial.

Cross said the Gholston case also could be brought to trial in February, earlier than the death-penalty Pearce case, which could take an additional year to come to trial.

Gholston, 53, was shot multiple times Sept. 27 outside a shopping mall in unincorporated DeKalb. Police say they considered Gholston, who suffered from schizophrenia, to be homeless

Pearce, 44, was confronted and shot while walking alone to her car in downtown Decatur on Dec. 6 after a dinner date with friends, police said. Decatur Police Chief Mike Booker said Presley confessed to killing Pearce.

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