MILLEDGEVILLE, Ga. — Marcus Lillard, the man accused of murdering UGA entomology professor Marianne Shockley at his friend’s Baldwin County home in May, appeared in court Friday for a commitment hearing.
Commitment hearings are used to determine if the case has enough evidence to go to trial.
Before the state began presenting the evidence they have so far, Lillard’s defense attorney Frank Hogue told Judge William Prior that his client intends to plead not guilty once the case goes before a grand jury.
The state’s witness was GBI Special Agent and lead prosecutor Michael Maybin.
Maybin said the first call to EMS about Shockley was made around 1:06 a.m. by Clark Heindel, one of Lillard’s friends and the owner of the home where her death occurred.
In the call, Heindel reportedly says Shockley had drowned but was breathing, then he later says she wasn’t breathing.
When first responders arrived at 1:20 a.m., they saw Lillard and Heindel giving Shockley CPR.
EMTs and investigators noted in an incident report back in May that the behavior of the two men seemed odd and their statements were inconsistent.
According to Maybin, Lillard said he was in the woods gathering firewood when he came back and found Shockley unconscious. Lillard believed she hit her head trying to get out of the hot tub, and he said he dropped her trying to pull her onto the pool deck. Lillard also said he thought she may have been faking it for attention.
The two men were then separated at the scene for questioning at which point Heindel went into his master bathroom and killed himself.
Maybin says Heindel’s suicide note claims he didn’t know what happened to Shockley, but he had lived a good life and it was his time to go.
Investigators spoke to Lillard again at 6:45 a.m. He told them he’d been dating Shockley for a year and a few months.
Maybin says the two men began making calls around 11:20 p.m. based on Heindel’s phone records, and while they can’t prove Shockley was in distress before the formal 911 call, they do know one of the calls was to a respiratory therapist who urged them to call 911. For the next hour, Lillard made five different phone calls and messaged five different people on Facebook.
An autopsy done at the GBI Crime Lab found Shockley’s cause of death was not drowning, nor was it a contributing factor, it was due to manual strangulation.
Lillard is charged with concealing the death of another person, aggravated assault and the murder of Marianne Shockley.
This is an ongoing hearing and the story will be updated at 13wmaz.com as it continues.