CHATTAHOOCHEE COUNTY, Ga. (WRBL)— Earlier today, June 17, the suspect in a 40-year-old murder case appeared before Superior Court Judge Gil McBride via Zoom.
The hearing was originally continued from April 25, 2022 due to the suspect’s lack of attorney. Judge McBride went forward with the arraignment in a hearing that lasted less than 15 minutes.
Marcellus McCluster, 64, of Richland, Georgia was indicted in March by a Chattahoochee County Grand Jury for the 1982 murder of Fort Benning soldier, René Dawn Blackmore, of Arizona. McCluster faces one count of malice murder and four counts of felony murder.
McCluster signed on to the arraignment hearing from the Augusta State Medical Prison, where he is serving time for a 1983 murder conviction in neighboring Stewart County. That was just one year after Blackmore’s disappearance.
McCluster had no attorney and entered a not guilty plea. He told Judge Gil McBride he has nothing to do with this case.
“I don’t see why I’m being involved in the case, I ain’t got nothing to do with the case, I don’t know why they keep charging me this, they keep charging me that, I ain’t got nothing to do with that, sir,” McCluster said.
Judge McBride responded by saying it was not the time to litigate the question of guilt or innocence. McCluster’s family spoke to News 3 at the original arraignment hearing on April 25. They tell News 3 they believe McCluster is innocent; however, Director of the Georgia Bureau of Investigation Vic Reynolds says his office feels strongly about the evidence in this case.
“If we did not believe very strongly in the evidence of this case, particularly one that’s 40 years old, we wouldn’t have made the case. We worked hand in hand with the prosecuting agency of Chattahoochee County, I believe, I’m not speaking for them, but I can tell you in our working with them, they feel strongly about the strength of the case as well. “
GBI Investigators say Blackmore disappeared after leaving the barracks on Fort Benning on the night of April 29, 1982. Her remains were found two months later on an access road in Chattahoochee County.