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8 years later, man pleads to girlfriend's murder

By Daniel Silliman

dsilliman@news-daily.com

The last thing Aundra Dermaine Grant said, before he kidnapped and killed his 20-year-old girlfriend, was "I'm not hurting her no more than she's hurting me."

Dragging Kamecha Lashay Calvert out of her friend's car into the cold, January wind and rain, Grant reportedly added his explanation: "She hasn't called me all day."

Grant, a 33-year-old Jonesboro man, pleaded guilty to murder last week, said Todd Naugle, Clayton County chief assistant district attorney.

The guilty plea concludes the prosecution of the domestic violence murder case, which lasted for more than eight years. Calvert was kidnapped for about an hour and a half, early on the morning of Jan. 23, 2000. Grant ran from Calvert's family and the police for one day. The case dragged on for eight years, though, as prosecutors sought the death penalty and Grant fired a series of court-appointed defense attorneys.

On Jan. 23, Calvert, called "Shay" by her friends, was dressed up and going out, according to the Clayton County Police Department's investigation. She was wearing a black leather jacket, black platform shoes, and a matching yellow bracelet and necklace, which both boldly bore her name: "Shay."

She and Grant, then 24, had just ended their relationship, according to friends of the couple. Grant reportedly told his brother he would pray to God to get through the depression of the break-up, and Calvert went with her girlfriends to Atlanta Live Night Club, also called the Bounce, up on Bankhead Highway.

At around 3:30 a.m., Grant accosted Calvert, according to witnesses. He walked up to the open car window, as one of the women tried to drive away, and he punched Calvert in the head.

He pulled her out of the car, forced her into his blue-green Chevy Impala, and drove off.

Detective Shon Hill noted in the case file that Calvert, the victim, was heard to say, "He won't let me," before the man drove away.

Calvert's girlfriends reportedly called her mother and stepfather, as the Impala pulled off, and followed the car.

The family tried to confront Grant outside a Baltimore Court home, where Calvert had parked her car. Grant wouldn't stop, though, according to the stepfather's statements to police, and when the stepfather tried to get in front of the car, Grant just ran into him and kept going.

At 4 a.m., the family flagged down a police officer, according to the department's investigative file. The officer, the family and the friends went to Grant's Liberty Lane house in Jonesboro, and saw the car drive by.

At 5 a.m., Calvert's mother and stepfather went back home, and there they found the young woman dead.

The front window was broken, they said, and they saw the 20-year-old crumpled by the front door.

"I thought she was lying there hurt," Steve Robinson, the stepfather, told police. "I went to turn on the lights, and that's when I saw all the blood."

According to crime scene and autopsy reports, Calvert's leather jacket was saturated with blood, the foyer was soaked in blood and there were bloody handprints on the wall.

She had been stabbed so many times "her head was almost severed completely from the body by cuts to the neck," the chief prosecutor said.

Detectives quickly contacted Grant's brother, who told them about Grant and Calvert's recent break-up. They contacted Grant's mother, asking her to persuade her son to turn himself in.

Detective Shon Hill noted each call in the case file: "I again pleaded with MS. GRANT to contact the Clayton County Police Department ... as soon as she gets word of the whereabouts of her son."

The next day, late the night of Jan. 24, Grant walked into the Polk County Sheriff's Office, wearing the same clothes he wore the night before, and turned himself in. He had cut himself, according to the jail records, and his boxer shorts were bloody.

Deputies reportedly found his Impala in Bartow, Fla., and reported they found blood on the steering wheel, the seat and the seat belt. An inventory of the items in the car listed receipts, half-eaten food, a wooden-handled knife and an empty jewelry box.

Prosecutors were seeking the death penalty in the case, but offered a plea deal on behalf of Calvert's mother, who said she didn't want the young man to die, Naugle said. The offer was made eight years ago, and was accepted only last week, a few months before a jury trial was set to start.

"We had discussed it with the family many times," the chief prosecutor said. "The mother was in favor of allowing him to plead ... This is someone she had known, someone who had eaten in her home. She actually brought it up before the defense attorney."

Grant, now 33, is set to spend the rest of his life in Georgia penitentiaries, without the possibility of parole.