JONESBORO — A Clayton County woman has been found guilty of murder in the brutal beating death of her mother in June 2011.
Jurors returned a verdict just before 5 p.m. Friday in the case against Kajul Harvey, 23. Harvey was found guilty of malice and felony murder in the death of Alena Marble, 59, and the bulk of the 21 other counts against her. She will be sentenced Tuesday at 1:30 p.m.
Clayton County Deputy Chief Assistant District Attorney Katie Powers said the heinousness of the crime was reflected in the swiftness of the verdict.
“They clearly didn’t believe her,” said Powers. “They believed the physical evidence, that there were two individuals involved. This was one of the most heinous beatings I’ve seen in my career in Clayton County and I think the swiftness of the verdict reflects that heinous nature.”
Jurors deliberated just a few hours Friday afternoon before returning the verdict.
Harvey’s boyfriend, Latoris Grovner, was convicted of voluntary manslaughter in Marble’s death in January. Grovner’s attorney, David White, had harsh words for Harvey.
“Acquitting my client — Latoris — of murder had little bearing on Kajul Harvey participating in the violent death of her own mother,” said White. “Cold as the world can be, homiciding your mom is vile and soul-sucking.”
“She was cold and calculating, she was the planner,” said Powers. “She was the mastermind and it was all about greed. She killed her mother over money.”
Harvey denied any involvement in Marble’s death and was merely weaving "fairy tales," said a prosecutor during closing arguments Friday morning.
Playing off Harvey's nickname of "Beauty," Powers told jurors that to believe Harvey's story was to believe in the fairy tale, "Sleeping Beauty."
"It's a fairy tale because it's a lie," said Powers. "It's not reasonable that your 4-year-old daughter hears your mother screaming for her life and you don't. Your mother suffered 17 separate injuries and you didn't hear it?"
Harvey told police and testified Thursday that she was sleeping upstairs when her boyfriend, Latoris Grovner, beat Alena Marble to death with a vodka bottle and saucepan. Prosecutors said Harvey was in on the June 3, 2011, killing and helped Grovner get the body out of the apartment and into the trunk of Marble's car.
Powers said Harvey drove the car across the street to another apartment complex where it was discovered by residents. The couple then tried repeatedly to access Marble's bank account, she said.
Grovner was convicted of voluntary manslaughter in January in Marble's death.
"It was always about the money," said Powers. "It's greed. She was so greedy, so greedy that she left her 2-year-old in a blood-soaked room."
Powers said the couple wanted just one thing from Marble — money.
"While Alena Marble was left to die in that trunk, bleeding and spitting out her dentures, they're getting the only thing they valued from her, her money," she said. "While her mother was in the trunk dying in 95 degree weather, they were making plans to go to the pool."
Marble, said Powers, deserved better.
"What she deserved was a daughter who cared about her," she said. "One who wouldn't come in here and make up evidence. She deserved to watch her granddaughter grow up and graduate from high school, to get married and help her pick out a dress. Don't let her granddaughter be the only one who cared at all. Find her guilty."
Powers was also able to show jurors that the car radio faceplate that Marble's daughter, Shambra Pearsoll, testified Thursday to finding the day after her murder more than two years ago didn't belong to Marble's car. Pearsoll caused a stir Thursday by producing the faceplate and a cell phone she claimed to have found while cleaning Marble's apartment the day after she died.
Incredulous, Powers asked her why she was just bringing it to the court's attention. She testified that she put it in a plastic bag and left it inside her car and only just remembered it Wednesday. Pearsoll testified that the faceplate belonged to Marble's Honda.
"I bought that car for my mother, this belonged to the radio on that car," she said.
However, Powers showed jurors pictures of Marble's car as it was found the day her body was discovered inside it. The photos clearly show the car radio and cassette player intact without a removable faceplate.
"I can't create a photograph from that day," said Powers. "They lied to you under oath. That was a last-ditch attempt because of what the evidence shows."
Harvey's defense attorney, Lloyd Matthews, argued that his client was innocent, that Grovner was completely responsible for Marble's death and asked the jury to acquit her. However, he did allow them to find her guilty of a non-violent crime such as evidence tampering, "If you have to find her guilty of something."