The murder case of Ross Jonathan McFarland, 16, is headed to a Lee County grand jury after he waived his preliminary hearing Wednesday morning.

McFarland, formerly known as Emily Ruth McFarland, is charged with the murder of Martha “Marti” Jones White, 66, of Auburn.

McFarland was scheduled to have a preliminary hearing in December but he and his attorney, Andrew Stanley, asked for the hearing to be moved to a later date, according to court records.

Since McFarland waived his preliminary hearing Wednesday morning, his case will automatically be sent for grand jury consideration.

There is no indication when a grand jury will hear McFarland’s case.

BackgroundAn affidavit filed in Lee County court in October 2019 detailed the murder of White and claims she was killed by her previously soon-to-be teenage stepson, McFarland.

White was engaged to McFarland’s father, according to the affidavit previously obtained by the Opelika-Auburn News.

Auburn police responded to a subdivision in the 700 block of Burke Place on Oct. 17, 2019, after receiving a call reporting an unresponsive female.

When officers arrived they located White, who was lying on the floor suffering from an apparent gunshot wound to the face. She was pronounced deceased at the scene.

McFarland was developed as a suspect during the investigation.

Police discovered that there was a missing Smith & Wesson .40-caliber handgun missing from the residence while interviewing an unidentified individual, the affidavit said.

Police later located a witness who was a close friend with McFarland. The witness stated that she and McFarland were in the residence earlier and she saw McFarland shoot White as she turned her head to look away from him, accordign to the affidavit.

McFarland then picked up the shell casing and the two left the residence, the witness told police.

“The witness also stated that McFarland harbored animosity towards White for being engaged to his father in such a short time after his mother’s death,” the affidavit reads.

McFarland is being held at the Lee County Detention Center without bond.

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