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Couple killed mother for money, say cops

Photo by Kathy Jefcoats
Clayton County Police Detective Joanne Southerland testifies Tuesday morning in the case against a couple accused of beating the woman's mother, and putting her alive in the trunk of her own car. The victim's body was found the next day.

Photo by Kathy Jefcoats Clayton County Police Detective Joanne Southerland testifies Tuesday morning in the case against a couple accused of beating the woman's mother, and putting her alive in the trunk of her own car. The victim's body was found the next day.

By Kathy Jefcoats

kjefcoats@news-daily.com

Five minutes after a Morrow man allegedly beat his girlfriend's mother and left her inside the trunk of her own car to die in the June heat, the pair were trying to access the woman's bank account, a Clayton County police detective testified Tuesday morning.

Latoris Antowyn Grovner, 21, allegedly told Detective Joanna Southerland he "looked at the clock" after beating Alena Marble, 59, on June 3, and leaving her inside the trunk of her Honda Civic across from her apartment complex.

"He told me it was 8:45 a.m.," said Southerland during the couple's preliminary hearing. "The video, showing him using her card twice to try to get money from the ATM, showed the time to be 8:50 and 8:51."

Grovner and Marble's daughter, Kajul Tawice Harvey, 21, then walked a quarter mile to the Bank of America near Southlake Mall, in another attempt to get money, Southerland said.

Police were drawn to the couple about noon June 4, said Southerland, when a witness found Marble's car apparently abandoned at a second complex. Police found blood dripping from the trunk, identified Marble as the car's owner and went to her home. Harvey answered the door.

"She acted very inappropriate," said Southerland. "I was just telling her we found her mother's car and blood coming from the trunk and she never reacted, cried, asked about any of that. She never expressed emotion or asked if her mother was in the car or even if her mother was alive, not one time,"

Armed with a search warrant, police opened the trunk and found Marble's body. At her apartment, police found massive amounts of blood, teeth, and a blood-covered vodka bottle, cooking pot, latex gloves and clothes, said Southerland. Harvey's eldest of two children, a 4-year-old girl, produced Marble's pocketbook, which was also smeared with blood.

The child also began sharing information with the police, she said.

"She said she was upstairs taking a nap and woke up to the noise of someone stepping on a squeak toy downstairs. Then she heard her grandmother crying," said Southerland. "She went downstairs to see why her nana was crying and laid on her chest, getting blood transfer on her orange shorts."

The child told police Grovner grabbed her by the throat and ordered her back upstairs.

Southerland said Grovner told police he'd been planning to get rid of Marble for weeks, by kidnapping her and taking her to a friend of his, who would kill her.

"She was stronger than he expected her to be and fought back," said Southerland. "After hitting her in the head and face, he beat her with a vodka bottle and then a pot, knocking her to the floor. He said he wasn't sure he could go through with it at that point."

But Grovner allegedly told police he grabbed some blankets, wrapped Marble in them and put her in the trunk of her car, still alive and making noises.

Southerland said the couple was angry because Marble refused to give Harvey $600 she needed to rent an apartment with Grovner.

After returning home from the bank, Southerland said the couple enjoyed a steak and potato dinner and made plans to go swimming Saturday afternoon at the apartment complex pool.

At the end of the brief hearing, Clayton County Magistrate Bobby Simmons bound over both cases to Superior Court for grand jury presentment. The two are being held in the Clayton County Jail pending a bond hearing Friday.