By Kathy Jefcoats
JONESBORO — Jury selection is set to begin Monday for the second trial of a woman accused of helping her boyfriend beat her mother to death in June 2011.
Clayton County District Attorney Tracy Graham Lawson said her office is preparing to prosecute Kajul Harvey, 23. Harvey is charged with murder and other felonies in the beating death of her mother, Alena Marble. Harvey faces life in prison if convicted.
Harvey's boyfriend, Latoris Grovner, was also charged with murder but was convicted of the lesser included offense of voluntary manslaughter following a January trial. He is serving a 30-year sentence in Ware State Prison but Lawson is appealing the punishment.
Harvey is being represented by public defender Lloyd Matthews. The first trial ended in a mistrial in April after Matthews revealed information to the jury in his opening statement that Superior Court Judge Matthew Simmons had told him not to. Matthews argued unsuccessfully earlier this month that the granting of the mistrial was in error.
Marble was beaten with a vodka bottle and a saucepan, wrapped in three blankets, placed alive and breathing in her own car trunk and left to die in the summer heat across the road from where she lived with Harvey and her grandkids.
Marble's apartment was splattered with her blood and police found four of her teeth in and around her sofa. By his own admission, Grovner tried to access her money within five minutes of the beating. After removing her from the apartment, he tried again.
The access was confirmed through bank records, trial testimony revealed.
Grovner was dating Harvey, who was four months pregnant with his child at the time of the killing. His defense attorney, David White, said Grovner was obsessed that Harvey aborted their first child — allegedly at Marble's urging — and he was eager to have their second child. Harvey had two children but Grovner was looking forward to having his own, said White.
White said Marble brought the violence on herself. Witnesses during Grovner's trial testified that Marble was terrified of him and Harvey. White said after the verdict came down that Marble should have removed herself from the situation.
"In talking to all of these people, she said she was afraid of them," said White. "She knew she was playing with fire, she'd know for quite a while she was playing with fire."