ATLANTA - A judge ruled there's enough evidence for a man to face trial for allegedly shooting and killing a man leading a prayer group at World Changers Church.
Floyd Palmer appeared in a Fulton County courtroom on Friday. Palmer is charged with murder, felony murder, aggravated assault with a deadly weapon and possession of a firearm during the commission of a felony.
Witnesses say McDowell had been pacing back and forth during the prayer service but stopped as Palmer approached the front of the chapel, Fulton County police Detective John Cross testified. Palmer began shooting when he reached the pulpit and continued to shoot McDowell once he'd fallen to the floor, witnesses told police.
An investigation revealed McDowell was shot 12 times, including one bullet that went through his heart and caused profuse bleeding, Cross said.
"At least five of the shots were on the back part of his body," Cross said.
McDowell's mother attended the hearing Friday and looked upset -- squeezing her eyes shut and scrunching up her face -- as Cross described her son's death. Channel 2’s Tom Jones said some of McDowell’s family members sobbed in court during the testimony.
Police still haven't recovered the gun used in the shooting, but they found bullets in Palmer's home with casings like those at the scene. Palmer did not legally own a gun, Cross said. Palmer had tried to buy two guns at a gun show in Savannah on Aug. 11 but was turned down because he falsified information on his application, failing to disclose his prior mental health history, Cross said.
Police records show Palmer was charged more than a decade ago with a shooting outside a Maryland mosque. Palmer was committed to a psychiatric hospital in 2004 after pleading not criminally responsible to the mosque shooting.
Church officials told police Palmer and McDowell never formally worked together, but Palmer's cousin and McDowell's wife both indicated to officers that McDowell had supervised Palmer at some point.
A church employee told police Palmer continued to attend services at the church following his resignation and had been there the Sunday before the Wednesday morning shooting. The employee told officers Palmer had not been his usual self that Sunday, refusing to make eye contact.
"He approached him and asked him if he was alright because he appeared to be acting unusual, meaning not his normal self," Cross said.
Cross was the only witness called by the prosecution at the preliminary hearing. The defense did not call any witnesses.