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Truck driver arrested in Lawrence; accused in Georgia slaying

By Nancy Glasscock
nglasscock@decaturdaily.com 340-2443

MOULTON — A Trinity man wanted for murder in connection with the death of an Americus, Ga., woman is in Lawrence County Jail, Sheriff Gene Mitchell said Thursday.

Authorities arrested Johnny Ray Cochran, 47, of 5740 Lawrence County 170 on Wednesday. He was arrested on Alabama 24 just east of Moulton by sheriff's deputies.

He is charged with being a fugitive from justice, and is wanted by Sumter County, Ga., authorities for murder and aggravated assault in connection with the shooting death of Melanie Strickland, 47, who was found dead in her home Aug. 18.

The Alabama Bureau of Investigation, Georgia Bureau of Investigation, Southwest Circuit district attorney's office and Sumter County Sheriff's Department worked together with local authorities in the investigation, according to a statement from the Lawrence County Sheriff's Department.

Cochran worked as a truck driver, Mitchell said.

Sumter County Sheriff Pete Smith said Strickland's death is believed to be the result of a domestic altercation. It remains under investigation.

"We're still trying to put the pieces of the puzzle together," Smith said.

Strickland ran an escort service for trucks pulling heavy equipment and doublewide mobile homes, Smith said.

Mitchell said the Sumter County Sheriff's Department contacted him Tuesday, saying authorities there had a warrant for Cochran's arrest.

Cochran was being held Thursday in Lawrence County Jail with no bond set, pending an extradition hearing, Mitchell said.

Smith said more details of the probe may be released later.

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