Jury seated in murder trial

Opening statements to begin at 9 a.m.

By Kathy Jefcoats


JONESBORO — A jury has been seated in Clayton County Superior Court in the state's case against a woman charged with killing her mother.

Opening statements are expected to begin Tuesday at 9 a.m.

Kajul Harvey, 23, faces murder and other felonies in the June 2011 beating death of her mother, Alena Marble. Harvey's boyfriend, Latoris Grovner, was convicted in January of the lesser-included offense of voluntary manslaughter and is serving a 30-year prison sentence.

Harvey is being represented by public defender Lloyd Matthews.

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.

Clayton County Deputy Chief Assistant District Attorney Katie Powers questioned potential jurors in Judge Matthew Simmons' courtroom Monday about those specific injuries, among other issues.

"Have you ever been hit with a bottle? A pan? Had your teeth knocked out?" said Powers. "Have you ever been trapped inside a trunk?"

Powers asked members of the jury pool if they'd ever tried to access someone else's bank account, visited a jail or known anyone who'd been convicted of a crime. One potential juror said she'd been hit hard enough to lose teeth and she'd been convicted of theft in 1994. She also said she has several relatives who have been in and out of state prisons for various offenses.

Another woman, an analyst for the IRS, told Powers her husband was previously convicted in federal court and she'd visited him in prison. An employee with the Georgia Department of Revenue said her brother had been arrested before for false imprisonment and child endangerment in a domestic dispute with his former wife.

Another juror said her son had been convicted of a crime. All said the defendants were treated fairly.

A potential juror for whom English is not his first language told Powers he was able to understand about 20 percent of what was being said during court proceedings.

Grovner was dating Harvey, who was four months pregnant with his child at the time of the killing. His defense attorney, David White, said during the January trial that 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."