A 45-year-old woman, charged with ending a domestic dispute by killing her 26-year-old husband of five days, is a registered lobbyist for a group fighting domestic violence.
Arelisha Bridges was ordered held without bond in the Fulton County Jail. She is scheduled for a preliminary hearing later this month on charges of felony murder, murder, aggravated assault and possession of a firearm during the commission of a felony.
Officials said Bridges claimed she was unemployed. But records show she is a lobbyist for an organization called the National Declaration for Domestic Violence Order; its Web site says the group is pushing legislation to create a database of those convicted of sex crimes or domestic abuse.
Usually an accused felon will appear at a preliminary hearing a day later, but Bridges’ hearing was within hours of the shooting death of Anthony Rankins. Officials said the court appearance was moved up because of the unusual circumstances around the crime.
Witnesses told police that Bridges was wearing a nightgown and a shower cap as she argued with Rankins on the sidewalk on North Avenue near West Peachtree Street around 10:45 p.m. Monday.
And moments later, witnesses said, they heard shots. They said she then “calmly walked away.”
A MARTA police officer stopped her as she was getting into her car, perhaps to return to her home nearby on Centennial Olympic Park Drive.
According to Atlanta police, Bridges told investigators that she and Rankins had been dating for a few months and were just married on Feb. 24.
Bridges’ group isn’t among the prominent domestic violence lobbying groups in Georgia, said Kirsten Rambo, the executive director of the Georgia Commission on Family Violence.
“This is the first I’ve heard about that organization,” Rambo said. “I certainly couldn’t say if they were legitimate or not,” she said, adding, “It’s certainly a new name to me.”
Bridges has filed sparse lobbying expenses, according to State Ethics Commission records. So far this year, she’s reported spending $20 — for parking while lobbying for the abuse database.
— Staff writer Mike Morris contributed to this article.