A jury finds a former Atlanta police officer accused of shooting and burning a woman guilty of felony murder, tampering with evidence, concealing death of another, aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, arson, and four counts of violation of office.
Channel 2 Action News reporter Liz Artz was the only reporter in the Fulton County courtroom while Tahreem Rana took the stand and was cross-examined by prosecuting attorney Edward Chase.
Chase asked: “When you were pouring the gasoline on her, did you think about family she may have?” Rana responded: “No.”
It’s the first time the former Atlanta police officer has spoken publicly since his murder arrest in 2014.
Atlanta police officer Tahreem Zeus Rana, 23, was “arrested (on Aug 28) trying to board a flight to Mexico busted trying to skip town Thursday, nearly one week after police believe he kidnapped 26-year-old Vernecia Woodard who he met on Backpage.com. She was taken to a secluded location where she was shot, and set afire. Her still-burning body was found by a city worker on Elm Street the morning of Aug. 22. On Aug 29, he appeared in court on charges of murder, arson, kidnapping, and tampering with evidence in the slaying. Investigators linked the killing to Rana through the woman’s phone records.
Here’s the report showing where she was taken….
Chase asked: “Did you have any remorse? Rana responded: “Yes.”
He told jurors Wednesday it was self-defense. The former officer testified he met Woodard for sex; he told jurors she tried to rob and carjack him with his own gun. During that struggle – Rana testified Woodard was shot three times. Rana told jurors he panicked, left the scene to purchase gasoline, returning later to set the 26-year-old’s body on fire.
Chase: “You didn’t contemplate calling the police, telling them you just got carjacked? The most important thing on your mind is continuing with your errands for the day, is that correct?” Rana: “That’s correct.”
Rana told jurors for three days he went about his normal life in an effort to forget about what he had done.
Chase: “So three days after having to burn someone, you were over it?” Rana: “Yes.”
Woodard’s family has been in court every day. Her sisters talked only to Channel 2 Action News.
“When I heard self-defense, I’m like what the world? How could he even fix his mouth to say that?” said Tashara Gilyard.
Woodard’s father said while he’s angry that Rana didn’t seem to show any remorse he’s still happy with the jury’s decision.
“Even though she was 26 years old at the time of her demise, she was still my baby,” Woodard’s father said.
Woodard’s sister said the trial was emotional grueling and the evidence photos were too much to bare, she is one step closer to closure.
“I feel like now after two years we will probably be able to finally get some sleep,” said Keisha Aikens.