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Guthridge v. State

Supreme Court of Georgia

May 11, 2015

GUTHRIDGE
v.
THE STATE

Murder. Clayton Superior Court. Before Judge Simmons.

Viveca B. Famber Powell, for appellant.

Tracy Graham-Lawson, District Attorney, Elizabeth A. Baker, Brian K. Ross, Assistant District Attorneys; Samuel S. Olens, Attorney General, Patricia B. Attaway Burton, Deputy Attorney General, Paula K. Smith, Senior Assistant Attorney General, Michael A. Oldham, Assistant Attorney General, for appellee.

OPINION

Hines, Presiding Justice.

Takeyia Kentay Guthridge appeals her convictions of malice murder and aggravated assault in connection with the fatal stabbing [297 Ga. 127] of her mother, Deloise Adu, and the assault with a knife of her stepbrother, Frank Adu. She challenges certain instructions to the jury, the effectiveness of her trial counsel, and the sufficiency of the evidence of her guilt. Finding the challenges to be without merit, we affirm.[1]

The evidence construed in favor of the verdicts showed the following. In January 2012, Guthridge came to live with her mother (" Mother" ) in her home in Clayton County. After about six months, tension developed between Guthridge and Mother because Guthridge was unemployed but not looking for a job and was not helping around the house.

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The two women argued, but did not have physical altercations. Mother asked Guthridge to move out of her home, and ultimately filed an action in magistrate court to evict her. Following a bench trial on the dispossessory action, on June 11, 2012, the magistrate court entered a judgment in favor of Mother.[2] In the days preceding the trial, Guthridge told Mother that she wished Mother was dead and would be glad when she was dead. Mother expressed fear of Guthridge and added a lock on her bedroom door so that she could lock herself in at night.

After the court proceeding on June 11, 2012 both women returned to Mother's home, and they began to argue after Guthridge asked Mother for money for gas. Mother called Guthridge a liar and said that she was ungrateful. Guthridge's stepbrother (" Stepbrother" ), who had a close relationship with Mother, was at home, and Mother directed him to go to the car and get her purse. After he returned and gave Mother her purse, he went into the living room, and he overheard the two women continuing to argue. Stepbrother then heard Mother screaming his name, and yelling " she's trying to kill me." Stepbrother ran into the room and witnessed Guthridge on top of [297 Ga. 128] Mother on the couch, stabbing her with a knife; Guthridge had Mother pinned down with her knee and arm, and was using her other arm and hand to repeatedly stab Mother, who was unarmed and trying to defend herself. When Stepbrother attempted to pull Guthridge off Mother, Guthridge swung her knife at him, and then attempted to stab Mother again. Stepbrother wrestled the knife from Guthridge, and the knife blade broke off from the handle, leaving a wound on Stepbrother's hand.

At Mother's direction, Stepbrother ran to the neighbors' house to get help; he related, " his sister killed his mom and she was stabbing her and stabbing her, she's going crazy." The neighbor called 911, but did not enter Mother's home; the police arrived shortly thereafter. A responding officer announced himself just outside Mother's residence; Guthridge emerged, and after the officer asked what was going on, she stated that she had just killed her mother. The officer placed Guthridge in custody, observing some scratches and marks on her arm, but no obvious knife wounds. Both the knife handle and the serrated knife blade were recovered.

The medical examiner found bruises and contusions on Mother's arms and legs, and stab wounds on her left hand, right arm, both shoulders, upper chest, and left frontal skull. The stabbing of the skull was inflicted with such force that the tip of the knife blade broke off and became imbedded in the skull. The wounds were consistent with having been inflicted with a serrated blade and with the attacker standing over the victim. Mother died as the result of deep stab wounds to her chest, which damaged her aorta and heart, causing extensive hemorrhaging.

1. Guthridge contends that the trial court committed reversible error in its charges to the jury on aggravated assault with intent to murder[3] and felony murder[4] " due to the contradictory elements of those two closely interwoven counts." She argues that inasmuch as the court instructed the jury that the aggravated assault, which was the underlying felony for the felony murder charge, required finding an intent to murder, and that it also instructed that intent was not an [297 Ga. 129] element of felony murder, the two charges together permitted the felony murder instruction

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to negate the intent requirement of the underlying felony on which it was based. But, the ...


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