Colon Murder Suspect Trial Rescheduled for February

Colon Murder Suspect Trial Rescheduled for February

The COVID pandemic has created a backlog in the justice system, pushing back the start of the trial to February 2023.

Marlene D. Colon was a popular aqua aerobics and Zumba instructor.
Marlene D. Colon was a popular aqua aerobics and Zumba instructor.

For months, family and friends of Marlene D. Colon had focused on the date Aug. 8, a Monday. That was when the trial of her accused killer had been scheduled to begin in Fulton County Superior Court. A popular fitness instructor, the 73-year-old Colon was murdered in her Sandy Springs home on Fawndale Way on April 5, 2021.

According to one of Colon’s two sons, the new date for the start of the murder trial is Feb. 6, 2023. Jonathan Colon said the logjam in the courts has been caused by the COVID pandemic.

“With the court system backlog, [the trial] could get pushed again to summer 2023, is my understanding,” he told the AJT. He acknowledged that both he and his family “are unsettled for the delay in justice. As we want justice for our mom, so she can rest in peace and we can move on with our lives.”

The accused, Chelci Chisholm — also known as Malka Padalon — is an Israeli who had apparently been living in Colon’s house for a few weeks, according to Sandy Springs detectives. Chisholm has been charged with murder, felony murder, aggravated assault with a deadly weapon and obstruction of a law enforcement officer. (Police reported that Colon was hit with a blunt object.) Chisholm’s Israeli driver’s license, provided by police, indicated that she was born in 1962.

Law enforcement officials found Chisholm and the body of Colon at the latter’s house, after receiving a 911 call. Chisholm has been in police custody since she was arrested. Her first court appearance, on April 7, resulted in her bond being denied. She pleaded not guilty in front of Judge Ural Glanville in a brief arraignment on Jan. 31. According to court records, the lead defense attorney is Alissa Lea Jones. Public defender Elizabeth Markowitz has also been assigned to the case.

Son Jonathan Colon (left) with his mother and brother Loren, says the family wants justice for his mother.

Court documents indicate that Chisholm had given police a Duluth address where she had lived until a few years ago with an ex-boyfriend. The house has since been sold. But it was at that Duluth address, in December 2017, that Chisholm allegedly attacked the boyfriend with whom she owned the house.

According to Gwinnett County documents, Chisholm was charged with misdemeanor battery and simple assault. Those court documents indicate that Chisholm forfeited her bond and did not appear at a bench trial scheduled for October 2018. Chisholm had apparently left the Atlanta area and returned to Israel, before coming back to Atlanta not long before Colon’s murder.

At least one childhood friend of Colon expressed doubt about the reasons for the trial’s delay.

“I guess we have to accept COVID” as the reason for the delay, said Carol Salus, who grew up with Colon in Cleveland, Ohio. “I miss talking to Marlene. We had many good times as children. I remember being at a birthday party and each of the girls covered her clothes with plastic covers from the dry cleaners. We were put into pairs and fed each other ice cream. The ice cream game was done while blindfolded. You can imagine the mess!”

Murder suspect Chelci Chisholm is also known as Malka Padalon.

Recalling her friend, Salus added, “We reunited at our 40th high school reunion and became good friends as adults. She was vivacious, and I miss her warmth and kindness. I could talk to her about problems, and she always listened and gave me thoughtful answers. Many people listen but don’t hear; Marlene cared and heard.”

Colon was a popular aqua aerobics and Zumba instructor at the Marcus Jewish Community Center of Atlanta and the Breman Jewish Home. Her license plate read ZUMBA4U. In particular, she enjoyed working with the elderly and with children with disabilities.

In addition to her two sons, Jonathan and Loren, she is survived by grandchildren Matthew and Julianne and more than a dozen first cousins. Her family is trying to be patient with the delays in the court system and wait for the justice they seek.

“We know it is still a long road ahead with the legal system,” said son Jonathan Colon.

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