Final Plea Date set for Colon’s Alleged Murderer

Final Plea Date set for Colon’s Alleged Murderer

The 73-year-old fitness instructor was killed at her home in April 2021.

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

Nearly 2 ½ years since popular fitness instructor Marlene D. Colon, 73, was brutally killed in her Sandy Springs house on Fawndale Way, the woman accused of her murder is scheduled to face a final plea hearing on Sept. 22.

According to court documents, a psychiatric evaluation has also been ordered for Chelci Chisholm, also known as Malka Padalon, who has been in custody since Sandy Springs police arrested her at Colon’s home on April 5, 2021. She was charged with murder, felony murder, aggravated assault with a deadly weapon and obstruction of a law enforcement officer. Chisholm was born in Israel in 1962, according to her Israeli driver’s license.

Several court dates have been set and reset in the last few years, partly due to the COVID pandemic backing up the justice system. The trial date had been set for August 2022, and then rescheduled for February 2023. Chisholm has also been appointed several public defenders over the years, with the latest substitution of counsel notification posted July 21, 2023. The current public defender is Jennifer Lubinsky, who told the AJT that her office does not “comment on cases before, during or after” they represent clients.

Murder suspect Chelci Chisholm is also known as Malka Padalon.

When asked what “final plea” generally entails, Lubinsky said that “usually it means the last day to enter a negotiated plea.” She also stated that a psychiatric evaluation is not unusual. Forensic psychiatrist Dr. Joseph M. Browning is named in court documents as the doctor who will conduct the evaluation, during which he will be “allowed to bring testing materials including pencils and laptop into the jail and will require that Ms. Chisholm will not be handcuffed.”

The original judge assigned to the murder case, Judge Ural Glanville, was promoted and has been replaced by Judge Scott McAfee who was expected to take the bench at the September hearing. However, it is possible that McAfee could also be replaced in the Colon case after he was assigned to hear the charges against former President Donald J. Trump and his 18 co-conspirators, alleging they tried to interfere with the Georgia vote in 2020.

Referring to the repeated postponements and replacements, Colon’s son, Jonathan, noted that his family has been “unsettled for the delay in justice. We want justice for our mom so she can rest in peace, and we can move on with our lives.”

Marlene 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.”

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

According to Sandy Springs police, Chisholm had been living in Colon’s house for a few weeks at the time of the murder. Police reported that Colon was hit with a blunt object. Sandy Springs police found the body of Colon, and Chisholm, at the house after receiving a 911 call. Chisholm has been in police custody since she was arrested. Her first court appearance was on April 7, 2021, when she was denied bond. She pled not guilty in front of Judge Glanville in a brief arraignment Jan. 31, 2022.

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 in that Duluth house, in December 2017, that Chisholm allegedly attacked her 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 in October 2018.

Chisholm had apparently left the Atlanta area subsequently, returning to Israel, before coming back to Atlanta not long before Colon’s murder.

In addition to Marlene Colon’s two sons, Jonathan and Loren, she is survived by grandchildren, Matthew and Julianne, and more than a dozen first cousins.

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